What is that gelatinous stuff washed up on the beach?

Salps washed up on the beach in Nags Head. [Kari Pugh photo]

Beachgoers have been wondering this week about little clear blobs that look a bit like chewed up jellyfish washing up along the shores of the Outer Banks.

They’re not jellyfish at all, nor are they sea lice or anything that might sting or bite. They’re called salps –“community-forming animals that look like a gelatinous barrel,” says NOAA.

“To gather food, they process water through their bodies at rates on the order of liters per hour, using muscular contractions to pass water across a mucous net inside their body that captures plankton and detritus,” NOAA writes.

Salps are voracious eaters of algae blooms, says IFLScience.com, and help transport carbon from the ocean’s surface to the sea floor.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read More local stories here.