Salps Invade Delmarva Beaches - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Salps Invade Delmarva Beaches

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Assateague Island National Seashore Assateague Island National Seashore

ASSATEAGUE ISLAND, Md.-Thousands of clear organisms called salps washed ashore over the weekend on Assateague Island. 
The tiny clear creatures are no bigger than your fingernail, but they concerned many beachgoers who thought they were pieces of jellyfish. 

Victoria Wagner was visiting the beach with her family and she said the salps were everywhere.

"I was kind of freaked out. My cousin pointed out that they were like jellyfish, and I was really alarmed because I'd rather not get stung by one," said Wagner. 

Assateague Park Ranger, and Science Communicator Kelly Taylor said while they look like jellyfish they are harmless. Taylor said they are more akin to a fish then a jellyfish, because they have a backbone. 

"They are definitely not dangerous. They don't have mouth parts to bite. They don't have tentacles to sting," said Taylor. 

You can even pick up the small organisms which are commonly known as sea squirts. 
Visitor, Chalmer Elm said they were all over him in the water. 

"Today when I got into the water, as I came out of the water they sort of stuck to me. You could actually see them drying on your clothes, and then they sort of just gelled back.You were able to brush them off. It was a little unnerving at times," said Elm.

Kelly Taylor said she has seen salps in Assateague before, but never this many. 
She said they survive on phytoplankton. 

"What we think we're seeing right now is that the population has crashed, and there's nothing for them to eat because they ate it all. That's why they are washing up on the beach.They are essentially starving to death," said Taylor. 

Taylor said it is unclear how long they will remain on the beach in Assateague. They have also been spotted in Ocean City. 

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