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28 Jun 2019
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Salps are harmless, clear sea creatures that regularly wash up on Outer Banks beaches.

Salps are harmless, clear sea creatures that regularly wash up on Outer Banks beaches.

The salps are here. That’s not a family visiting from someplace up north or a four-piece band playing a new kind of music.

Rather, a salp is a clear, small, gelatinous organism that is washing up on Outer Banks beaches.

There are a lot that a salp is not, and what it is not is important to know.

First of all—they are not related in any manner or way to jellyfish. About the only thing they have in common with jellyfish is that they have a clear gelatinous body.

They are not mermaid’s tears. Too bad on that one. It would have been a great story if that was the case.

Egg sags or larval form of some species? Nope, not that either. What has been tasing up on the beach is the adult form of salps.

Perhaps most importantly, they are not in any way shape or form harmful.

Harmful, perhaps to phytoplankton, their primary food source, but to humans, or any mammal…including dogs—absolutely not.

What We Do Know about a Salp

Generally, a salp floats freely in the oceans although it does have the ability to move by pushing water through its body.

They have not been studied as much as jellyfish, probably because no one has ever gotten hurt picking one up. As a consequence, we don’t know as much about them as a lot of other marine species.

What we do know is kind of interesting though. They will reproduce to match their food source, so evidently, there is a lot phytoplankton in ocean waters right now. As their population swells, they consume massive amounts of phytoplankton, until the food source is gone. They then die back to smaller numbers.

There’s probably a lesson somewhere in that about overconsumption, but the comparison seems a bit stretched.

The salps are just one of the many wonders of the Outer Banks. Plan your visit and book an oceanfront Outer Banks vacation rental with Brindley Beach Vacations!