While conventional science tells us that we’ve basically discovered everything there is to discover and know everything that there is to know (in a nutshell), new creatures are constantly being discovered. Most times, these new discoveries are just variants of species we already knew existed. And sometimes they are just really strange, alien-looking creatures that most of us have never heard of, but are indeed known to science. Such as the Salpa maggiore, a large, transparent shrimp-like creature, one of which was recently caught off the coast of New Zealand.
While fishing in the South Pacific Ocean, a New Zealand man made an unusual catch: this completely transparent “wobbly shrimp-like creature.” Stewart Fraser and his two sons were fishing at a spot 43 miles north of the Karikari Peninsula on New Zealand’s northern tip, according to MailOnline. When Fraser spotted this see-through creature swimming near the ocean’s surface, he just had to investigate.
“I was in two minds whether to haul it in, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a closer look,” Fraser told MailOnline. “It felt scaly and was quite firm, almost jelly-like, and you couldn’t see anything inside aside from this orange little blob inside it.”
Although Fraser and his sons have never seen anything like it before, a researcher from the National Marine Aquarium in the United Kingdom suspects this clear critter is a Salpa maggiore. According to Paul Cox, the director of conservation and communication at the aquarium, a salp moves by pumping water through its gelatinous body. It also strains the water to feed on the phytoplankton that live in the ocean’s upper layer. The salp life cycle alternates with each generation, switching between a solitary lifestyle and living in groups that form long chains.
Salps like these are typically found in colder seas such as the Antarctic Ocean, which boasts the world’s largest salp population. Apart from their native waters, scientists don’t know much about the mysterious salps.
Interestingly the salp’s most distinctive feature–its transparent body–actually keeps it safe. Just like some jellyfish and hydroids, salps are defenseless animals that inhabit open water. Fortunately its translucent anatomy makes it less noticeable to predators.
“Being see-through is a pretty good camouflage in water,” Cox told the website.
Known to science, but not something most people would readily recognize, one can see why Mr. Fraser was freaked out when he hauled it in. It looks like something from another planet. And with most of the ocean’s depths still unexplored by mankind, one can only imagine what strange creatures are already sharing the planet with us, waiting to be discovered.