Salp

Salpa fusiformis

ORDER

Salpida

FAMILY

Salpidae

TAXONOMY

Salpa fusiformis (Cuvier, 1804).

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Both stages possess a clear, barrel-shaped, gelatinous body with circular muscle bands embedded in the body wall. Solitary (asexual) stage 0.39-1.9 in (1-5 cm) in length with nine muscle bands. Aggregate form (sexual) 0.39-1.5 in (1-4 cm) long with six muscle bands and can be found solitary after breaking off long chain. The body shape of the solitary (asexual) stage is symmetrical; it is asymmetrical for the aggregate (sexual) stage, with short outerior and posterior projections. Gut is the only prominently colored part of the body.

DISTRIBUTION

Semi-cosmopolitan in temperate to tropical waters, mostly oceanic with occasional near-shore swarms. (Specific distribution map not available.)

HABITAT

Most commonly found in surface waters at night. Can make daily vertical migrations of up to 1,640 ft (500 m).

BEHAVIOR

Long chains of aggregrate forms can move through the water surprisingly quickly, up to 1.85 in (4.7 cm) per second.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Important filter feeders on phytoplankton. Known for fast growth rates.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Asexual stage produces a tail onto which bud two rows of the sexual stage that stay connected together, forming long chains several feet (meters) in length. The sexual stage can break away from the chain and swim along independently. The sexual stage bears fertilized eggs that are connected to a kind of placenta.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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