Environmental News: Why Have Millions of Sea Pickles Invaded Oregon’s Coast?

Scientists are baffled by the invasion of millions of sea pickles aka pyrosomes that have invaded the waters of the Pacific Northwest. These strange, jellyfish-like critters are clogging local waters and fishing nets and their presence creates a disturbing and destructive development in environmental news.

What is a sea pickle or pyrosome?

Each sea pickle or pyrosome, whose name means fire body, is, really a colony of individual, multi-cellular organisms known as zooids that bind together to create a hollow, tube-like structure that has one closed end and one open end. A zooid can arise from another zooid by budding or dividing. These weird creatures resembling translucent slugs eat plankton and congregate hundreds of thousands of feet below the water’s surface. At night they migrate vertically to the surface. They are pelagic, meaning they live far from land, in the open ocean.

#1. Single Sea Pickle

Environmental News: Why Have Millions of Sea Pickles Invaded Oregon’s Coast?
Pphoto: Earth.com

According to University of Oregon graduate student, Hilarie Sorensen: “They feel like a dog toy, if anyone is a pet owner, and you pick one up. The average size is around a foot, a foot and a half. And it’s this tube-like structure that feels kind of rubbery and bumpy. They’re generally kind of a pinkish color.”

Sea pickles first appeared in the Northwest in 2015

These creatures first made environmental news when they began appearing off Oregon’s coast some two years ago, even though they are usually found in warmer tropical waters. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), their numbers have made environmental news again because they have since multiplied into the millions.

# 2. Bunch of Pink Pyrosomes

Environmental News: Why Have Millions of Sea Pickles Invaded Oregon’s Coast?  Environmental News: Why Have Millions of Sea Pickles Invaded Oregon’s Coast?
Photo: Notey.com

According to Sorensen: “At first, we didn’t know what to make of these odd creatures coming up in our nets, but as we headed north and farther off shore, we started to get more and more. We began counting and measuring them to try to get a better understanding of their size and distribution related to the local environmental conditions.”

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