UNITED STATES: Southern California’s beaches have recently been inundated with thousands of blue creatures, known as Velella velella or By-the-Wind Sailors.
These tiny creatures are not jellyfish or Portuguese Man O’War but are colonial hydroids, made up of a colony of tiny individual animals that use their characteristic sail to catch the wind and travel on ocean currents, preying on small fish and animals with their stinging tentacles.
While they are not harmful to humans, marine biologists advise people not to touch them as their tentacles can cause small stings. The recent storms and strong winds in California are believed to have pushed them ashore, leaving a stretch of shoreline tinged blue.
The Point Reyes National Seashores national park shared on Facebook that the creatures have a firm and upright triangular sail attached to their body, which causes them to be caught up by the wind and blown across the water’s surface, earning them their name ‘By-the-Wind Sailors.’
They warned that if encountered, the creatures may be fresh and tinging the shoreline blue or crinkly and dry ovals of cellophane if they’ve been there for a while.
Off the coast of Dana Point, California, Dana Wharf Whale Watching claims to have spotted “millions” of these mariners. In a video posted on Dana Wharf Whale Watching’s Instagram feed, science instructor Nona the Naturalist described the features of the animals.
The Wildlife Trusts also shared that the creatures are usually found washed up in their hundreds or even thousands after stormy winter weather due to being at the mercy of the winds.
According to a report, this is not the first time that Southern California’s beaches have been inundated with Velella velella. In 2015, thousands of these creatures washed up on shore, surprising beachgoers and prompting experts to explain their unusual characteristics.
While these creatures may not be harmful to humans, their sudden appearance on the shoreline can be a fascinating and curious sight for those lucky enough to witness it.
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