Salps flood the beaches of Nerja
They have been confused with plastics.
The strange marine creatures that have been seen throughout the weekend on the beaches of Nerja have been mistaken for plastics by some bathers.
The salps are harmless gelatinous invertebrates of the family of tunicates. They get carried away by the currents and, in a natural way, they sometimes concentrate on certain beaches.
They move by contraction, pumping water through their gelatinous body. The salpa forces the passage of the pumped water through its internal alimentary filters, feeding on the phytoplankton that filters out of the water.
One of the reasons for the success of the salps is how they respond to sudden abundances of phytoplankton. When there is a lot of food, the salps quickly produce clones, which collect phytoplankton and can grow at a rate that is probably faster than that of any other multicellular animal, rapidly eliminating phytoplankton from the sea.
But if the phytoplankton is too dense, the salps can get stuck and sink to the bottom. During these abundances, the beaches can become viscous with tufts of bodies of salps, and other species of plankton can experience fluctuations in their number due to competition with the salps.