Beachgoer stunned by 'alien' creatures washed up on Aussie shore

These marine creatures are taxonomically more closely related to humans than jellyfish.

A Tasmanian woman has jokingly announced an "alien landing" at her local beach after discovering unusual creatures washed up on the shore. The creatures have been described as "fascinating" despite their arguably basic appearance.

During a coastal walk on Sunday, Julie spotted several blobs protruding from the sand which looked as though they could be made of jelly. The large translucent tubes had orange-reddish ends and were strewn across her path.

Several sea salps can be seen strewn across the sand, appearing mostly translucent other than their orange-reddish ends which appear to glow slightly.
The unusual creatures known as 'sea salps' were spotted on a beach in Tasmania over the weekend. Source: Facebook/FieldNaturalists Tasmania

She quickly turned to social media in a bid to identify the creatures, with pictures of her peculiar find also piquing other people's interest.

What is the creature?

The creatures spotted on the beach have been identified as sea salps and they are a type of marine animal.

Despite looking similar to a jellyfish, they are actually classified as "sea squirts" and are related to animals that have backbones, being taxonomically closer to us humans than their ocean-dwelling counterparts, according to the Australia Museum.

Sea salps can be seen almost glowing in the dark, with a white skeleton-like exterior.
Sea salps are known to live in offshore marine environments away from land. Source: Getty

Salps travel through the water by pushing water from the front of their body to the back, helping to propel them forward and be mobile — with this jet propulsion system credited as one of the most efficient of its kind in the animal kingdom.

They often swarm the ocean in their hundreds, sometimes thousands, with many of the creatures spotted on Queensland beaches, from the Gold Coast to the Sunshine Coast, in 2017.

Interesting facts about salps:

  • Salps are believed to be the fastest growing multicellular animal on earth

  • Salps can reach maturity after 48 hours, increasing their body length by 10% per hour

  • Salps never have to look for food as they feed and take energy from particles in the water

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