What Is that?


To the Editor:

Just curious about the gelatinous less-than-an-inch sacs floating along State Beach. I have been told two theories:1) They are jellyfish larvae; one beachgoer told me he ate some with peanut butter today — that’s a fish tale if I ever heard one.

2) They are salps, otherwise known as some sort of plankton. If salps, OK, sort of, but when I Google, those are mostly Australia or West Coast. If they are jellyfish larvae? Well, then there is the potential for stings if hair and more important, swim clothes, aren’t washed clean of them.

I am curious to identify them. Can anybody help?

I have only seen them on State Beach. I haven’t seen them on Jetty Beach.

Joan M. Shea

Vineyard Haven

Editor’s note: Salps are transparent barrel-shaped planktonic animals that eat phytoplankton by filtering, or straining, it out of the water with a net made of mucus that is suspended in their barrel-shaped bodies, according to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute website. They are very good at eating, and can eat most of the phytoplankton out of the water that they swim through, just like vacuum cleaners. Salp populations grow rapidly when conditions are right. They can be single animals, called solitaries, or in chains, called aggregates. They are not harmful to humans.