One day i was diving in the Red Sea, when i saw the most bizarre beings I ever witnessed:
It was a transparent row of tubular shaped compartment, about 1.5 meters long and roughly 5 cm high, pulsating and floating around.
When i dove nearer I realised there have been 2 other rows floating nearby.
It looked very beautiful, bizarre, fragile and alien at the same time.
Curious about what it was, i asked many other divers but even the more experienced ones looked at me like
I had nitrogen narcosis.
So I started to research (that was before the interweb was available, so it took me some time)
And found it: They are called Thalia democratica and belong to the family of salpidae (salps)
Let me introduce them to you:
They swim around in colonies and feed on plancton. They suck in water, digest the plancton and push the water out on the other end, resulting in a jet
propulsion. Movement and feeding in one!
The fecal matter they propulse is carbon which descends to the ground of the ocean. According to Scientists they send up to 4000 tons of carbon a DAY
(!) to the ground.
(Source: Scienceticker (in german)
So they do their fair amount of environment clean up on a daily basis, playing a good part in climate change.
Other interesting facts:
Salps appear to have a form preliminary to vertebrates, and are used as a starting point in models of how vertebrates evolved. Scientists speculate
that the tiny groups of nerves in salps are one of the first instances of a primitive nervous system, which eventually evolved into the more
complex central nervous systems of vertebrates.
They have two life cycles, first reproducing asexually then reproducing sexually as sequential hermaphrodites, first maturing as females, and are
fertilized by male gametes produced by older chains. !!
Check out the wiki on them
with a beautiful picture.
And more pictures on
For me the thalia democratica is as well a metaphor for living together (democratica) in a peaceful way, doing good to the environment, and since they
are hermaphrodites they would not even think about the old male vs. female topic.
And the transparency they display should be see more often in our politics and economy.
So now you know, what my profile picture is and why it is there.
edit on 23-11-2011 by svetlana84 because: added picture