09 Jul
Attack of the Giant Slugs Attack of the Giant Slugs

Attack of the Giant Slugs

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) reports that coastal waters off the shore of Oregon have been filled recently with millions of translucent, slug-like creatures that measure from an inch to more than 2 feet in length.

Called pyrosomes and shaped like giant pickles, the organisms first showed up along Oregon's coast in 2015. In recent months, however, their numbers have soared into the millions, according to NOAA.

What's perhaps even more odd is that the creatures typically reside in tropical waters -- not the usually chilly waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Recently, researchers conducted a five-minute midwater tow off the Columbia River and managed to snare about 60,000 pyrosomes -- without wanting to. The researchers were hoping to find a different, rare fish and were forced to wade through the pyrosomes until they reached their goal.

In a statement, Ric Brodeur of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s research station in Newport, Oregon, said, “We have a lot of questions and not many answers. We’re trying to collect as much information as we can to try to understand what is happening, and why.”

Hilarie Sorensen, a University of Oregon graduate student who was aboard the NOAA research ship Bell M. Shimada on its May research trip off Oregon, added, “At first we didn’t know what to make of these odd creatures coming up in our nets but as we headed north and further 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.”

The pyrosomes also appeared in large numbers as far north as Southeast Alaska.

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Read 969 times Last modified on Saturday, 01 July 2017 13:31
Jim Lillie

Jim began writing for newspapers and designing for publishing companies at a time when both industries were just beginning to make the switch from manual to digital platforms. Jim lives in Boulder, Colorado with his teenage son.

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