Salpa Maggiore!

It was a rare encounter while we were diving in Sumilon Island in Oslob, Cebu. It happened quick as I have seen something transluscent floating towards me. Watching and wondering what it was, I managed to snapped few photos.  Almost tempted to touch the specie, I changed my mind thinking it might some kind of poisonous.

Searching some materials revealed this mysterious creature. Salps may look similar to jellyfish, but they are more closely related to marine vertebrates including fish.

Although they are mainly transparent, the bizarre creatures have gills and a heart. Like other tunicates, their bodies are encased in a sac-like structure, which has an opening at each end. As water pumps in and out of the openings, or siphons, Salps are propelled through the water. Filters inside their body sift through the water and collect their food, which consists mainly of algae and phytoplankton.

As reported by Plankton Chronicles, Salpa maggiore can grow to around 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 massive chains. While part of a chain, salps use electrical currents to communicate and synchronize their movements.

It was surprising to find one in waters of southern Cebu as they are commonly found in cooler waters of the Southern Ocean. It was my first time to find one after diving some time in the Philippine waters.

Have you find this specie whilst diving or snorkeling?