Marine Mucus House

; Credit: MBARI

The Loh Down On Science

Hate cleaning house? Here’s a fun new solution!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Larvaceans are ocean creatures that resemble tadpoles. Every day they build a three-foot long mucus shelter that also traps food. To eat, the larvacean pumps and filters seawater through this gooey house. When the house gets too clogged, buh-BYE! It’s dumped.

Kakani Katija from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute was curious. Just how MUCH water gets filtered? But collecting the fragile homes is impossible. They break apart as soon as they’re touched! 

So Katija developed a remote-control high-speed imaging system to study larvaceans in the ocean. She used it to reveal the tiny particles of food floating around the house. Then she recorded the creatures eating as they filtered water. 

And? Turns out larvaceans can filter ELEVEN GALLONS of water per hour! Why’s that important? Because the filter traps carbon-rich gunk. When larvaceans dump their house, it quickly sinks to the ocean bottom. The gunk gets buried, keeping C-O-2 out of the atmosphere—-for millions of years!

Who knew trashing your house could be so good for the planet?!

This content is from Southern California Public Radio. View the original story at