Shrimp-like Translucent Sea Creature Found off Northland's East Coast

First Posted: Jan 22, 2014 05:16 AM EST

A fisherman in New Zealand got more than he bargained for when he reeled in a completely see-through shrimp-like creature from the  waters off NorthIsland's coast.

Steering through the blue waters 43 miles north off  the North Island's Karikari Peninsula hoping for a catch of Hapuka fish, New Zealand fisherman Stewart Fraser  was baffled to see a translucent wobbly shrimp-like creature floating near the surface of the water.

Fraser told the MailOnline, "I was in two minds whether to haul it in, but curiosity got the better of me and I decided to take a closer look. It felt scaly and was quite firm, almost jelly like, and you couldn't see anything inside aside from this orange little blob inside it."

The image of the see-through shrimp like sea creature was later posted on, and it grabbed the attention of thousands of people within a few hours.

Not much is known about this translucent sea creature.

But a lead researcher from the National Marine Aquarium believes that the sea creature is a 'Salpa Maggiora' (Salpa Maxima). Salps are known to feed on phytoplankton and have a gelatinous body. They are mostly found in temperate and cold seas and have a complex life cycle.  

"The salp is barrel-shaped and moves by contracting, pumping water through its gelatinous body. It strains the water through its internal feeding filters, feeding on phytoplankton from the upper sunlit layer of the ocean. They have an interesting life-cycle with alternate generations existing as solitary individuals or groups forming long chains. In common with other defenceless animals that occupy open water - jellies and hydroids for example - the translucence presumably provides some protection from predation. Being see-through is a pretty good camouflage in water," said Paul Cox, director of conservation and communication at the National Marine Aquarium.

Salps feed on the smallest organisms and play an important role in the food chain. "They can eat the smallest plant plankton and can even eat bacteria so they can exist in parts of the ocean where nothing else can live. The significance of that is they are an intermediary in the food chain,''  said a National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research scientist, Dr Dennis Gordon.

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