Induction of the Salp Suckers Society


We arrived at our northernmost station, off the coast of Virginia, in the middle of last night, and since there's some bad weather headed our way, the night shift got right to work doing some net tows for sampling. This site is different from the others in that the waters are much richer. We saw some common dolphin off the starboard side chasing some squid and mahi tuna as we were getting ready to deploy the bongo net.


Once the nets came up, we could see just how different the waters up here are – everything was full of salps (Figure 1). Salps are jelly-like animals that float in the water. They look like a clear tube with a brown stomach in them, but they're actually some of the invertebrates that are the most closely related to humans.


Chief Scientist Joe Warren challenged – or rather, invited – those of us onboard who haven't tried them yet to join the Salp Suckers Society. Induction involves picking out a salp, repeating the society's chant, and gulping down the animal. Chloe Nunn and I volunteered and completed the induction rites – followed by leftover apple pie from dinner.


-Julia Notar


Figure 1. The caught end of the IKMT net, overflowing with salps. Photo by Chloe Nunn.