What manner of abomination hath the ocean wrought?
This was just one of many thoughts that were likely rocketing through New Zealand fisherman Stewart Fraser's head when he pulled a bizarre, translucent, shrimp-like creature from the water.
Fraser was fishing with his sons 43 miles from New Zealand's Karikari Peninsula when he saw the gelatinous alien form. "I was in two minds whether to haul it in, but curiosity got the better of me, and I decided to take a closer look," Fraser told Mail Online. "It felt scaly and was quite firm, almost jelly like, and you couldn't see anything inside aside from this orange little blob inside it."
Although Fraser and his friends were stumped, scientists who have seen the photos believe the creature might be a salpa maggiore. "Little is known about these salps," says National Marine Aquarium Director Paul Cox. "However, they are often found in colder seas, with the most abundant concentration found in the Southern Ocean."
Salps tend to roam the upper layers of the ocean where sunlight can still penetrate. They move by straining water through their gelatinous bodies, feeding on phytoplankton and other small bits of organic matter. The ghostly appearance is believed to be a form of camouflage for the otherwise defenseless creature.
They are also known for their unique life cycle, during which they will exist both as individuals and part of an aggregate organism. In the group portion of their cycle, salps will form a massive chain, moving, feeding, and growing together. It's during this phase that the salps, sequential hermaphrodites by nature, reproduce, with an older male chain fertilizing a younger female one.
What else waiting for us deeper down in the dark?
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