Sticky Translucent Beachgoers

Monday, June 17, 2019
By Martin Myall

ALM SalpsAlmuñécar beaches have been invaded by mysterious, gelatine creatures – and no we’re not talking about jellyfish or Granadinos.

Cotobro, San Cristóbal and Cantarriján have been visited by these… body snatchers! Well, OK, let’s just say, flip-flop squelchers. They have also appeared on beaches in Calahonda, Salobreña and Torrenueva, so it’s not only Almuñécar.

Thankfully, we have the Observatorio del Mar, experts on The Big Salty, who know what the blighters are! They’re Salps!

A salp is a barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate! If you’ll stop blinking for a moment, I’ll explain by quoting good-old Wikipedia:

“One reason for the success of salps is how they respond to phytoplankton blooms. When food is plentiful, salps can quickly bud off clones, which graze the phytoplankton and can grow at a rate which is probably faster than that of any other multicellular animal, quickly stripping the phytoplankton from the sea.

ALM Salps & DiverBut if the phytoplankton is too dense, the salps can clog and sink to the bottom. During these blooms, beaches can become slimy with mats of salp bodies, and other planktonic species can experience fluctuations in their numbers due to competition with the salps.”

The second paragraph is the most important part and explains why they have appeared on the beaches.

Anyway, the good news is that they have no poisonous tentacles and don’t sting, so you can pick them up and stuff them up your nose, if you feel so inclined.

(News: Almuñécar, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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