What are the strange transparent 'jelly bean' creatures invading Spanish beaches?

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What are the strange transparent 'jelly bean' creatures invading Spanish beaches?
The clean up has already begun. Photo:

Thousands of weird looking gelatinous see-through creatures have been washing up on the beaches on Andalusia.


They might be odd, but they're completely harmless. 

They look a bit like plastic, but these creatures are barrel-shaped planktonic tunicate, known as salps.

Clean up teams have already started to remove them from the shores, but salps present no threat to humans, except for creeping us out!.

These gelatinous blobs, known as las salpas in Spanish and also ‘zapaticos’ , kind of look like jellyfish but without tentacles, but in fact, salps are more closely related to humans than they are jellyfish. 


They can reach up 30 centimetres long, but are more commonly washed up the size of a fingernail, they have a primitive backbone, which jellyfish lack.

They are not to be confused with 'sea lice', a term that has been used to describe the larvae of tiny jellyfish that can sting and cause rashes.

Interestingly, it has been suggested that salp could be a secret weapon against climate change, because the algae that they eat uses carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to grow, meaning the salps end up consuming all that carbon.

This said, it is unlikely that salps will be able to keep up with the increased carbon in the atmosphere.

READ ALSO: Strange blue sea creatures wash up on Costa Blanca beaches

Thousands of these extraordinary creatures can currently be found on the Costa Tropical, the stretch of beaches between Granda province and Málaga, but they are not expected to stick around for long.

Changes in wind direction and sea currents tend to push salp towards the beaches, although salps move by contracting and pumping water through their transparent bodies. 

By Alice Huseyinoglu


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