What does the mysterious migration of the gelatinous salp have to do with reducing atmospheric carbon? A UBC student will set sail next week in the hopes of finding out.
Salp is on the way
Thanks to a National Geographic Society grant, Alexis Bahl (she/her) will board a research ship on October 1 and sail to the Southern Ocean to study the migration of salps. These tiny organisms move from the ocean depths to the surface every day at sunset to feed. It’s the largest migration in the world by biomass, or number of creatures per volume, says Bahl, a doctoral student in the department of earth, ocean and atmospheric sciences.
From greenhouse gas to poop
Salps eat other organisms on the ocean’s surface that have absorbed carbon from the atmosphere. When the sun rises, they swim down and excrete, effectively transporting carbon to the sea floor where it’s stored for centuries – a form of carbon sequestration.
As waters warm, salps are multiplying, but just how much carbon they can capture in their daily journey is unknown. Bahl aims to find out, including whether they might help offset global warming.
Interview language(s): English (Bahl)