Salp

Thalia democratica

ORDER Salpida

FAMILY Salpidae

TAXONOMY

Thalia democratica (Forskal, 1775).

OTHER COMMON NAMES None known.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The asexual stage is about 0.47 in (12 mm) long with a pair of lateral posterior projections. The sexual stage is about 0.23 in (6 mm). The test is thick and has five prominent muscle bands.

DISTRIBUTION

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

HABITAT

Usually found in surface waters. BEHAVIOR

Swim actively through the water by contraction of the muscles in the test.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Important filter feeders on phytoplankton. Recorded growth rates among the fastest of any multicellular organism (up to 70% length increase per hour).

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Asexual stage produces a tail onto which bud rows of the sexual stage that stay connected together, forming long chains several feet (meters) in length. They lack the tadpole larval stage, the egg develops directly into the asexual stage. Generation times can be as fast as a few days, resulting in huge swarms covering hundreds of square miles (kilometers) of open ocean.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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