When ya gotta a day off, the wigs go on!
Super excited to go exploring Monterey Bay Harbor with a gaggle of wigged women yesterday! The ultimate find of the day was the largest solitary salp in our area, The Twin-Sailed Salp. These gelatinous floating sacs are fitter feeders targeting mostly phytoplankton that it snares with a mucuous net.
They belong to the Phylum Chordata, just like US due to the presence of a notochord during its larval stage. Subphylum Urochordata or Tunicata. You may have heard of tunicates, the common sea squirts or sea porks found on our beaches also belonging to this subphylum.
The most incredible find however, was what looks like a translucent medusa fish taking refuge in the floating gelatinous barrel. In our area, medusafish are more commonly found among the stinging tentacles of Sea Nettles, a cnidarian and one of the true jellies. Salps lack nematocyst, those precise stinging apparatus that distinguishes the cnidarians. The twin-sailed salp is an important carbon recycler as their large fecal pellets sink into the deep. Another critical species in the era of climate change!
Finally, the scientific name for this festive salp is Thetys vagina! Thetis was a goddess of water, an infamous sea nymph in Green mythology. Back in the day when named by German naturalist Wilhelm Gottlieb Tilesius von Tilenau, “vagina” simply made reference to a sheath rather than our current interpretation.
Join our next adventure at www.bluewaterventures.org!