November 1, 2004
Salps, members of a large group of free-swimming, gelatinous organisms collectively known as jellies, are more common than previously thought in the waters around Antarctica. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists are studying the role of these fragile creatures in the Southern Ocean food chain, long thought to be based on krill. Salps may have a larger role to play as a food source in the region, yet little is known about their behavior, seasonal abundances and migration patterns, and many other factors. Biologists are diving this month in the waters off the West Antarctic Peninsula to observe their behavior in situ and to collect specimens for future laboratory study.