|The many eyes of Phronima.|
If you happen to have a submersible, you would find these critters throughout the pelagic zone (essentially every part of the deep ocean other then the ocean bottom). In this state your average Phronima would look something like this:
|Did I forget to mention that they are almost entirely transparent?|
|Your typical solitary variety of salp.|
But as we said, our mother Phronima is in desperate need of a home and when that delicate little salp comes along it is the very solution to all her problems. The only thing stopping Phronima from moving into this nice cylinder of tunican is all these messy internals. But being pregnant, Phronima could do with a bit of a meal, so she begins eating the insides out of the hapless salp (it is almost a pun yet far enough to be safe, amazing). Once all that messy internal tissue is done away with, Phronima can get around to her main goal of raising her family. So she lays her eggs along the inside of the hollowed out salp and continues to swim along with it so that it will get plenty of fresh water and nutrients flowing by. This leaves our once homeless mother with not only a chic new house but the foundings of a whole new brood, a brood that will continue on living the double lives of the female Phronima, part free living, part necro-parasitic, as Michael Bok described it. Michael, on his own blog, also shows how this endearing little creature may have been the inspiration for the Alien Queen from the film Aliens.
|As cozy as one could be in a corpse.|
Photo, Phronima eyes: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Mike Land
Photo, Corpse home.