If you don’t know what a “salp” is, you have company here at Death and Taxes. It’s not a great word—in fact it’s nauseating to say in plural—and it reads a little like a misspelling of “scalp” or an abbreviation for baby scallops.
Of course, they are neither of those things. According to San Luis Obispo Tribune, salps (guh!) are little Jellyfish-like sea creatures that recently shut down the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California with their tiny gelatinous, cockroach-shaped bodies. According to the Tribune:
“Both biology and ocean physics have teamed up against Diablo Canyon,” said Mark Moline, a marine biology professor at Cal Poly.
The event began Tuesday when southerly winds began blowing the salps into the plant’s cooling water intake cove. Plant operators noticed differences in water pressure at the intake structure, indicating the salps were beginning to clog the rolling screens in front of the intake, said Ed Halpin, PG&E’s chief nuclear officer…
On Wednesday, power output at Unit 2 was increased to 24 percent, but a fresh influx of salps overwhelmed the intake screens, which roll in a circular fashion that allow them to be cleaned.
“Last night, the conditions got to the point where we had to shut it down,” Halpin said. “So we’ll have to wait until the salp situation clears up.”
Why do we care? Maybe we’re paranoid (we’re definitely paranoid), but Moline’s quote, “Both biology and ocean physics have teamed up against Diablo Canyon,” reads like it’s from first scene of an apocalyptic thriller in which intelligent sea creatures, possibly with extraterrestrial DNA, begin attacking the human race. And that’s terrifying.
Also, the Tribune reported that “Salps can reproduce both sexually and asexually, and this gives them the ability to multiply quickly…’By having this adaptive strategy, the numbers can ramp up quickly and you can have millions in a couple of days,’ [Moline] said.” So even if they aren’t carrying alien DNA, millions of rapidly procreating salps promise more salp-related damage along coastlines, and more pitch meetings where we have to use the word “salps.”
(No thank you.)