A man fishing in the northern waters of New Zealand spotted a strange looking, limpid sea creature swimming on the surface. Catching his eye, he caught the creature to get a closer look. It was described as being shaped like a shrimp, but was totally transparent.
The fisherman, Stewart Fraser, said the fish “felt scaly and was quite firm, almost jelly like, and you couldn’t see anything aside from this orange little blob on the inside.” He and his friends have never witnessed anything like it. After snapping a photo, he threw the enigmatic fish back into the water.
After the photographs circulated, it was identified as a Salpa Maggiore by the research team at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, U.K.
Salpa Maggiore, or commonly known as Salps, they look similar to jellyfish but actually are more related to marine vertebrates. They are found in both equatorial and cold seas, which makes the waters around New Zealands Karikari Peninsula more than ideal for the translucent creature. Salps are spotted swimming alone just as often as they are seen in long, string-like colonies as they propel through the sea by pumping water through their gelatinous bodies.
While they are a harmless species that consumes only algae and phytoplankton, it is strongly believed that a salp’s transparent body is designed specifically to avoid it being spotted by predators when floating near the surface.
Salpa Aaggiore can grow up to 10 inches long, and often travel in large groups, or chains. As they are asexual, the creatures are capable of producing their own offspring to form the vast chains. Salps use electrical currents to communicate and synchronize their movements within the chain. While part of a chain, they maintain their individual identity although, they also function as one, much larger, organism.
Salpa Maggiore are rare but intriguing creatures. Stewart Fraser was lucky enough to see one up close and have the opportunity to document his find.