Legions of mysterious jelly-like creatures washed up on a California beach Monday and Tuesday, prompting speculation from locals. "Baby tremor monsters?" guessed a member of the Huntington Beach Community Facebook group. "Maybe the 'arse-blaster' version from "Tremors 3?" another member pondered. "Aliens sent here to sick our brains out and rule our world," someone else concluded.
Image via Ryan Rustan on Facebook
Local Ryan Rustan posted in a Huntington Beach Community Facebook group that the puzzling creatures "felt little water balloons popping under [his] feet, super squishy". He said he saw "thousands" along Huntington Beach. Another local told the Los Angeles Times, "There were so many along the sand you could barely walk."
Huntington Marine Safety Lt Claude Panis, who has worked as a lifeguard on the beach for almost 40 years, told the OC Register, "I've never seen anything like that before, it looks odd."
"Whatever they are, they do burrow into the sand," wrote Dan Coursey in the Facebook group.
Image via Dan Coursey on Facebook
A professor at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Irvine said the creatures are likely "pelagic tunicates", more commonly known as salps, which are barrel-shaped invertebrates with gelatinous bodies. National Geographic describes them as "some of the most interesting, least known creatures in the ocean".
Braken explained, "These marine invertebrates look sort of like jellyfish, but they are actually more closely related to vertebrates (e.g., humans) than to other invertebrates. They occasionally bloom off the California coast."
May the salps conquer us all.