Can you JUST SAY “look at this neat critter” without making an “alien” reference?

This first appeared on the Daily Mail which is where CNN gets their news, I guess. I’m a bit concerned that these “WHOA, WEIRD CREATURE” stories are a symptom of our ignorance about the animal kingdom. But, I think it’s just because the internet has resulted in strange stories getting big hits – use of the word “alien” means that’s guaranteed.

Scaly, see-through thing surprises fisherman –

Did a fisherman pull some sort of shape-shifting alien from the ocean off New Zealand?

Why the stupid hype, CNN? Spare us your speculation.

When Stewart Fraser spotted the translucent creature floating in the Pacific 40 miles off the North Island’s Karikari Peninsula, he wasn’t sure he even wanted on his boat, he told the UK’s Mail Online.

The New Zealand Herald asked a professional.

Niwa’s primary scientist for biodiversity and biosecurity Dennis Gordon said the creature was a type of salp, which moves through the ocean by contracting and pumping water through its gelatinous body.

Salps played an important role in the food chain because they were able to feed on the smallest organism which were captured in internal filters.

I’m saddened that man out fishing would run to the Daily Mail before asking someone who might know (or perhaps HE should know). Salps aren’t exactly rare.

Salps are tunicates, not jellyfish, but closer in relation to vertebrates. They are strange animals for sure, capable of living as an aggregated chain of bodies or budding off as individuals like this one. They occasionally wash ashore.

So, there is your learnin’ for the day. A new animal. Now, CNN, don’t call it an “alien” again. Get to know earth.

Addition: Here’s how the media covered it. Way to keep people stupid.

WebBlastozooid labelledsalp chain

Tip: Brandon Blahnik

  5 comments for “Can you JUST SAY “look at this neat critter” without making an “alien” reference?

  1. Chris Howard
    January 22, 2014 at 2:47 PM

    “Alien” as in unfamiliar, or strange, but yeah I get that they’re, probably, not going for that definition.

  2. Lagaya1
    January 22, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    The colony phase is just amazing!

  3. Dang
    January 22, 2014 at 3:41 PM

    Sometimes a part of a colony washes ashore after storms and beachcombers mistakenly think they are eggs from various other organisms (e.g., squid, octopus, jellyfish). I have occasionally seen them while SCUBA diving, but they are so translucent that my point-and-shoot camera won’t focus on them.

  4. Daran
    January 22, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    And it forms a spiral! Thanks for the beautiful photo of those creatures.

  5. January 23, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    Scaley? Since when?

    Their colonies are amazing.

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