Tara Oceans Expeditions - May 2011. Salp aggregation containing small shrimps (symbiosis?). A salp (plural salps) or salpa (plural salpae or salpas) is a barrel-shaped, planktonic tunicate. It moves by contracting, thus pumping water through its gelatinous body. The salp strains the pumped water through its internal feeding filters, feeding on phytoplankton. Salps are common in equatorial, temperate, and cold seas, where they can be seen at the surface, singly or in long, stringy colonies. The most abundant concentrations of salps are in the Southern Ocean (near Antarctica). Here they sometimes form enormous swarms, often in deep water, and are sometimes even more abundant than krill. Over the last century, while krill populations in the Southern Ocean have declined, salp populations appear to be increasing. The chain of salps is the aggregate portion of the life cycle. The aggregate individuals are also known as blastozooids; they remain attached together while swimming and feeding, and each individual grows in size. Each blastozooid in the chain reproduces sexually (the blastozooids are sequential hermaphrodites, first maturing as females, and are fertilized by male gametes produced by older chains), with a growing embryo oozoid attached to the body wall of the parent. The growing oozoids are eventually released from the parent blastozooids, then they continue to feed and grow as the solitary asexual phase, thus closing the life cycle of salps.
Christoph Gerigk / Biosphoto
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Shooting date : 2011-05-04