Salp

Thetys vagina

ORDER Salpida

FAMILY Salpidae

TAXONOMY

Thetys vagina (Tilesius, 1802).

OTHER COMMON NAMES

None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Solitary stage has a very thick test, 20 weakly developed muscle bands, two prominent posterior green lateral projections, and can reach up to 13 in (33 cm) in length, making it the largest of all salps. Aggregate stage up to 10 in (25 cm) and five muscle bands. Prominent gut mass is often red-pigmented in both stages.

DISTRIBUTION

Semi-cosmopolitan in temperate to tropical waters. (Specific distribution map not available.)

HABITAT

Commonly found in oceanic surface waters down to 490 ft (150 m).

BEHAVIOR

Can be very prominent member of oceanic and near-shore surface waters. The large aggregate stage stays connected, forming very long chains many feet in length.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET Feed on phytoplankton.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The fertilized egg is connected to the inside of the sexual stage by a placenta; it swims out only when it has developed. It grows into the asexual stage, which grows a tail where the sexual stages bud in two rows. Each sexual stage contains testis and ovary, which produce sperm and egg to produce the next generation of asexual stage.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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