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Salp chain

Salps are gelatinous animals that live in the open ocean, but are closely related to the "sea squirts" (tunicates) seen in tidepools. Colonial salps such as this one in the genus Heliosalpa often form long chains, with new animals budding off from others in the chain. By rhythmically contracting their bodies, salps propel themselves through the water and pump water through their guts, filtering out microscopic algae and other tiny organisms for food. This allows them to swim and eat at the same time. With such a simple feeding strategy, salps can multiply very rapidly when they have plenty of food. Most salps are found within 100 meters of the sea surface, where there is enough sunlight for algae to grow. Along the Central California coast, salps are typically seen in fall, when warm, open-ocean water flows toward shore.

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