Salps (Tunicates)


Salps are planktonic Tunicates, and are in Phylum Chordata along with fish and all vertebrate animals! They move by pumping water through their bodies, filtering phytoplankton for food as they pump. Salps have multiple life cycle stages that coexist in the open water. There are two general forms made by salps. One form is a small solitary gelatinous tube, and the other is long chain of individual tubes. Both forms can reproduce, and when food is plentiful salp populations can rapidly increase.

Salps are a common sight throughout the water column at Axial Seamount. There are several gelatinous and colonial chain salps at Axial, however, only one species has been captured in focus on the HD camera.

(Contributed by Katie Bigham, University of Washington, VISIONS 14)

Unknown Salp 1

This gelatinous tube-form salp drifted by the ROPOS camera at the base of Axial Seamount.  It's transparent body make it look more like a jellyfish than a member of Phylum Chordata!