March 8, 2006
Hi, I am a seventh grader in Ms. Sheild’s science class at Clarke Middle School in Lexington, MA.
I saw a photo of a salp and it looks fascinating, almost like a piece of glass art work rather than a living animal. Your web page says that salps are found in all oceans. Is the salp population increasing and the krill population decreasing in other oceans the way they are in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica?
I am interested in the work that the biologists will do with the salps that are collected by the scuba divers. How will they measure how much phytoplankton a salp eats each day? Can they determine what a salp’s favorite plankton food is? I read that salp only come to the surface of the water at night. Will you try to do experiments to figure out if salp eat different food and different amounts of food near the surface of the water compared to deeper waters?
Dear Graduate student Kelly C. Rakow
Thank you for looking in on the expedition! Here are answers to some of your questions
First ( I know it wasn't a question!) we think salps are beautiful, also!
Salps are in all oceans, but we don't know enough about their populations to know if there are more than there used to be. They have been around for a very long time, and fishermen have probably seen them for thousands of years, but we are just finding out more about their biology now.
One of the ways the scientists find out how much salps eat is to put live salps into a container in the ship's aquarium room, and measure at the start how much algae is in the water—then checking the water every few hours to see how much remains. You can calculate how much the salp ate, and how much water it can "clear" of algae per hour.
Salps don't seem to be able to select what they eat. They are like vacuum cleaners, and just suck in whatever is there in the water, so we think probably they don't have a favorite food.
Your last question is exactly what some of the scientists here are doing! They want to find out whether salps eat anything in deep water, and when they start to eat, as they swim up in the water. To do this, they are examining the stomachs of salps caught in nets towed at different depths, and different times of day.
I hope that answers some of your questions,
sincerely, Larry Madin, chief scientist.
My name is Brent Lemley. I go to Southside school distict in Batesville Arkansas. What is the best part of Antartica? Have you seen any animals besides fish and salps? Do you enjoy being on the ship? I don't have a big boat but I have a little fishing boat and I just love to go out on it. I am really interested in Antartica and I would like to go there some day. Do you know Ms. Mary Cook she was the teacher at sea and we got to learn a lot about the oceans and how we find out about all the stuff that happens in the ocean and surounding areas.
It is good to hear you have been looking at the site and wrote to us!
We have not spent very much time near the Antarctic continent so far but when we came in to Palmer station the mountains and icebergs were spectacular. Now that we are out in the open ocean, my favorite thing is what there is to see underwater near Antarctica. While diving, we see lots of krill, ctenophores (also called comb jellies), pelagic snails and of course, salps! In the tows, we have also seen some deep sea shrimps that are dark red, larval fishes, jellyfish that look like space ships and small crustaceans called copepods. One of my favorite things to see on a dive or in a tow are pelagic worms that wriggle through the water instead of being on the sea floor. They have many feet that are called parapodia (and are red tipped!) and they swim by wiggling these feet.
I do enjoy being on the ship, Brent! We have a great team of scientists and crew that I really enjoy working with and everyone keeps a positive attitude. It is a great advantage for us to have easy access to salps, which mostly live far from land. It is also an amazing feeling to be out on the open ocean surrounded by water. Being on a ship, you do miss some things though, like not being able to run around outside. As you might expect, I also miss my friends and family.
I am glad that you enjoy fishing! It is a great way to spend some time outside and get in touch with the natural world around you. I like to go fishing with my friends Dave and Matt on a boat called Okra. I am so glad to hear that you are interested in Antarctica and the Dive and Discover site is a good starting point to learn more about it. One of the most interesting things about the continent of Antarctica is that it is not controlled by any one nation. Instead, it is shared by many nations with the common goal of understanding and preserving the unique history, geology, biology and chemistry of this fascinating place.
I don't happen to know Ms. Mary Cook but it sounds like she taught you a lot about the oceans which is excellent. The oceans cover almost three quarters of the earth and are home to the majority of plant and animal life on earth! We still have much to learn about life in the oceans, which is why expeditions like this one are so important.
I hope you'll keep checking in on us!
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Hello I am Teddy Holland and I am wondering if you could keep a salp as a pet, and if you could what would the tempature of the water be, how big would the cage be, and what will it eat?
Thank you for writing in and for looking at our website! I don't think you could ever keep a salp as a pet, because even in specially-made aquariums they don't survive very long. They are fragile, and get injured on the sides and bottom of the tank, and then they just fall apart. Their bodies are very soft and watery. If you could keep them, the kind of salp we are studying here in Antarctica would need very cold water, near freezing. And salps eat microscopic plants in the water, so you would have to raise those to feed your pet salps, if you could keep salps. Some people have tried to keep them alive, in very big tanks and with microscopic plants for food, but they never live long.
Sincerely, Kate Madin, writer