Have you seen these guys?  They are everywhere!!!

Photo credit: Shannon Holly
Photo credit: Shannon Holly

I swam among millions of these gelatinous, translucent, jellyfish-like blobs this weekend...did you?  No, they are not Jell-O shot leftovers from some rager, they're called salps.  As you might imagine, my kids were full of questions...are they alive? Can they sting us like jellyfish? Will they go away?  Here are the answers!

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First, let's put it out there, isn't it weird to swim among these things? My family felt like we were swimming in a Jell-O mold but I didn't panic, I knew salps are harmless so just like Dory in Finding Nemo, we just kept swimming!  Salps come every year but if you've missed their cycle in years past you may be thinking they are some sort of jellyfish eggs...don't worry, they are something totally different.

Salps are alive (at one point they even have a spine) but they soon turn into the clear blobs that I took a photo of above.  They are filter feeders that bring big benefits to the Jersey Shore.

We started seeing them in Cape May County in the beginning of July.  Then we saw them in Ocean County around the 4th of July...this past weekend they were all over Long Branch.

Salps don't sting, they are harmless and are actually a sign of ocean health. They help remove carbon dioxide from the environment and since they have an appetite like Uncle Sal at Sunday family dinner.  Salps eat enough phytoplankton to keep everything in check. Ahhhh, balance!  Nobody likes too much carbon in the atmosphere and they help curb that too.

So don't worry, salps are actually fine swimming partners!  Keep scrolling for more amazing sea life!

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