WATCH: The Tiny Clear Blobs Washing up on Beaches Are Even Weirder Than You Think
Contrary to popular belief, these harmless creatures have no relation to jellyfish.
Thousands of small, gelatinous, crystal-clear blobs are washing up on East Coast beaches. Though they’re often referred to as "jellyfish eggs" these weird little creatures are called salps, and they have more in common with people than they do with jellyfish.
“As you enjoy the warm water today, you may come across some of these jellyfish-like critters. They are called salps, and are present because of phytoplankton blooms, which are their food source,” Kill Devil Hills Ocean Rescue wrote on Facebook alongside a photo (below) of a hand holding a number of salps. “The black dot in the center of them is their digestive system, and they are completely harmless.”
Changes in wind direction or water currents will push them onto shore, but as far as blob-like ocean creatures go, they’re an absolute breeze.
Though they resemble jellyfish, “the only thing salps and jellyfish have in common is that both are gelatinous and both float around in the ocean,” Larry Madin, executive vice president and director of research at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, told National Geographic.
Salps, like their relatives the sea pork, are part of a group called tunicates, are considered one of the most evolved of all marine invertebrates. They have a kind of primitive backbone, which jellies lack. They’re just there to chow down on algae.
So, fear not the slimy salp!