Pyrosomes aren’t usually spotted on the West Coast
(Mirror Daily, United States) – Scientists were baffled by some peculiar creatures present in the Pacific Ocean spreading from the waters of Southern California up to the Gulf of Alaska. Their gelatinous appearance and their shape attracted the nickname ‘sea pickles’.
Peculiar animals nicknamed sea pickles
These animals actually bear the name pyrosomes, and belong to the group of multicellular creatures called zooids. Their aspect might make you think they are related to jellyfish but, in fact, there’s no connection between them.
To their already peculiar shape is also added bioluminescence. In Greek, “pyrosoma” means “fire body”, so this rare property was the inspiration for the name chosen for these sea pickles. Usually, the creatures are not that big, ranging from one to two feet. However, they might also reach more than 30 feet, but this happens quite rarely. Their body has small bumps on its surface, which start oozing a weird substance when touched.
Scientists couldn’t find a clear place for these sea pickles in the food chain, since all they know about them is that they filter phytoplankton. Other things they could find out about pyrosomes was related to their reproduction, which is asexual.
Do they pose any threat or not?
However, researchers wanted to find out why pyrosomes became so abundant on the West Coast, and suspected higher water temperatures might be to blame. These creatures usually live near Florida, Australia, Ivory Coast, or in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, so this might be a plausible explanation.
Their sudden outburst on the West Coast is not dangerous for humans, but they might affect the fishing industry in Alaska or Oregon. Many fishermen stopped their expeditions, since their nets and gear became clogged with sea pickles. Also, in only five minutes, scientists gathered 60,000 pyrosomes from the waters of the Columbia River.
At the moment, they cannot tell at what rate these creatures might reproduce, and what threats they might pose to other sea animals. However, the increasing number of pyrosomes might use oxygen reserves from the waters which other creatures need in order to survive.
#ONCabyss Upper water column is full of Pyrosomes pic.twitter.com/2924OnMRko
— Paul Macoun (@PaulMacoun) June 17, 2017
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons