We have been encountering chains of Salps around Bunaken recently, some colonies are really long, but these misunderstood creatures aren’t as scary as you might first think.
In the last two weeks of diving in Bunaken we have seen hundreds of salps on our dive sites, from individuals, to chains of 20-30 or more. They look a bit like jellyfish but evolutionary are very different. And they don’t sting.
Fish and sometimes turtles like to feed on them so here in Indonesia, they are great to have around. Often we see them when there is a bit more plankton in the water, but Salps eat phytoplankton so they soon clear it up for us and they might give you a clue as to what other plankton filtering animals are in the area; maybe whale sharks or even mantas. Simon and Clare have spent the last week loving the amount of turtles that are here at the moment, a great birthday present for Clare!
Fun Facts! Salps move by contracting and pumping water through their gelatinous body, one of the most efficient examples of jet propulsion in the animal kingdom. The salp filters the pumped water through internal feeding filters to extract their favourite food, phytoplankton. When they eat too much they become too heavy and sink to the ocean floor contributing to the carbon cycle and the food chain too. They are great for the planet!
Sunman, our DMT Intern for the last two weeks, has enjoyed helping teach a PADI Rescue course with PADI Instructor Colin and Advanced Open Water Diver Daniel, but the slimy salps haven’t been a highlight I don’t suppose! Our other guests, Mike, Julia and Phillipe have been learning to dive by completing the PADI Open Water Course and Hannah refreshed after 9 years out of the water. WOW! Don’t leave it so long next time.
All in all, a busy but brilliant week seeing the weird and wonderful that sometimes attract the gentle giants of the sea.