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Billions of weird creatures invade US beaches

Posted on Saturday, 23 August, 2014 | Comment icon 27 comments

A number of velella stranded on a beach. Image Credit: PD
Huge numbers of the organisms known as 'by-the-wind sailors' have been washing up on the West Coast.
The blue sea creatures have started to turn up on America's shores in such large quantities that in some regions they are believed to number in the billions.

Known more commonly as 'Velella velella', these organisms are actually small hybrid colonies that float on the ocean's surface where they feast on plankton. A special sail-like structure on top of each one also helps to propel them along.

Such mass strandings of the organisms tend to happen at certain times of the year when unfavorable wind conditions push them all towards the shoreline. At times these drifts can become so big that the piles of creatures can measure several centimeters deep.

"The numbers, if you extrapolate, are awe inspiring," said Prof Kevin Raskoff. "With some of my students we counted more than a thousand per metre. The numbers get astronomical pretty fast."

Source: AOL | Comments (27)

Tags: Velella, Ocean

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by Sundew on 23 August, 2014, 14:00
The species--last I checked--was called the Portuguese Man of War. Stepped on the stinging tentacles of one, once. Was an unforgettable experience. These are a related species. I stomped on hundreds of them about a month ago at the Oregon beach. Not a single sting. Both the Sailor-by-the-Wind (Vellela) and the Portuguese Man o' War (Physalia) are drift animals, specialized creatures that live at the sea surface and are drift with wind and ocean currents. They are both colonial animals, not a single organism. I have always wanted to see Vellela but never have. We have a related animal called th... [More]
Comment icon #19 Posted by Harte on 23 August, 2014, 16:44
Wonder what they taste like? Harte
Comment icon #20 Posted by Duchess Gummybuns on 23 August, 2014, 20:04
It's just the Vella Family Outing. Even animals have their get-togethers.
Comment icon #21 Posted by Helleal on 24 August, 2014, 4:55
Is there not ONE person thinking that perhaps Fukushima radiation has anything to do with all the die offs and animal sickness? It will catch up with humans too.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Ashyne on 24 August, 2014, 5:01
They look very similar to some of the Scrin! I think that's where the inspiration comes from!
Comment icon #23 Posted by Harte on 24 August, 2014, 5:16
Is there not ONE person thinking that perhaps Fukushima radiation has anything to do with all the die offs and animal sickness? It will catch up with humans too. I didn't think it, but I was sure that someone else would and would bring it up. I wasn't about to start that crap myself. Harte
Comment icon #24 Posted by Sundew on 24 August, 2014, 21:41
Is there not ONE person thinking that perhaps Fukushima radiation has anything to do with all the die offs and animal sickness? It will catch up with humans too. I asked a Ph.D Chemist about this and he said, "In one word I can tell you why it will not be a problem: dilution." He went on to say, given the size of the Pacific Ocean it will be a negligible rise in background radiation. Now he did say that you would not want to eat seafood coming out of the bay where the radioactive water is pouring in, but he said what makes some of these elements dangerous is not the radiation but the toxicity.... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by Harte on 25 August, 2014, 5:01
All this is not to say that this isn't a disaster, it is, but it's difficult to blame everything on Fukushima. Well, except for climate change. Fukushima is definitely responsible for that. Or, is it the other way around? No matter. Harte
Comment icon #26 Posted by Silent Trinity on 25 August, 2014, 6:25
Yet again the mighty oceans part and reveal a glimpse of the world hidden beneath....
Comment icon #27 Posted by FizzPuff on 25 August, 2014, 14:05
The results of radiation perhaps? Causing weird things in the bottom to mutate? Maybe their the ones deep at the bottom, and this was just good timing.

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