Ocean explorers, fishermen, and tourists alike are baffled by the accumulation of pyrosomes on the shore of the Oregon coast. This is an eerie event, as researchers from the Northern California Current ecosystem research cruise aboard the NOAA ship Bell Shimada hypothesize that the accumulation of pyrosomes might have to do with the heating of the ocean’s water.
Accumulation of Pyrosomes Baffles Researchers on the Oregon Coast
Pyrosoma atlanticum is a species of colonial pelagic tunicates. It is made of individual zooids that come together and form a hollow, tube-like structure. The pyrosomes filter feed on plankton and they migrate dial vertically from hundreds of meters below to the surface of the water. Scientists do not know many things about feeding behavior and their overall impact on food webs.
The accumulation of pyrosomes has bedazzled beachcombers along the coast especially in the recent period because they wash up on beaches. The main concern for scientists is that, as in the case of many other gelatinous zooplankton, they do not have enough information about the natural history of these organisms. As such, researchers do not know the potential impact that the accumulation of pyrosomes can have on the marine ecosystems.
All that it is known for the moment is that pyrosomes develop in a fast manner and that they are good filterers.
One biologist from the NOOA science center in Newport, Oregon, says that the reports on the accumulation of pyrosomes are of recent date. Even more so as he has cruised the waters for research since 1980 and that the first pyrosome he saw was in 2014.
But one working hypothesis is that the accumulation of pyrosomes might be linked to the increase of the ocean’s temperature. And this might resemble, in one way or another, the natural habitat of the pyrosomes.
Image Source: Flickr