Thousands of jellyfish-like blue blobs are washing up on the California coast

Thousands of jellyfish-like blue blobs are washing up on the California coast

Thousands of jellyfish-like blue blobs are washing up on the California coast

A blue blob with a translucent circular sail sitting upright on a sandy beach.

A close up of a Velella Velella sitting on the sand after washing ashore.Getty Images

  • With the wind the sailors are starting to reach the coasts of California.

  • Beaches from Dana Point to Point Reyes National Seashore have seen creatures on their shores.

  • The animals are not dangerous to humans, but they can sting.

Blue jellyfish-like creatures known as sailors of the wind are starting to dot the coasts of California and are making their way as far as Orange County.

On Friday, Dana Wharf Whale Watching, which operates off the coast of Dana Point, California, said it had seen “hundreds” of the creatures in the water and displayed two of them on one of their whale-watching boats.

“See them on the beaches,” said Nona Reimer, a science teacher who goes by Nona the Naturalist, in an Instagram video for Dana Wharf Whale Watching. “They will soon wash up on the shore.”

Joe Mueller, a biology professor at the College of Marin, told Insider that it’s hard to predict how many will wash ashore — and for how long — but he said they can sometimes completely blanket beaches.

“They can be short, like a day or two, and have a few Velellas on the beaches, or they can be continuous throughout a season and you can see whole beaches that are just blue, where it looks like someone put grape jelly all over the beach. beach,” Mueller said.

Known by their scientific name Velella velella, hydrozoans are a collection of polyps that float in the ocean using a translucent “sail” that sits upright on a flat, oval-shaped body. Their sails can be angled to capture wind patterns depending on which hemisphere they are in.

Sailboats found in the Northern Hemisphere use their angled sails to catch winds and follow the clockwise North Pacific Maelstrom, a system of currents that circulate water in the Pacific Ocean.

“When there are winds coming in that aren’t inside that vortex, or opposing winds, that’s what might bring them ashore because they’re designed to be able to stay in the center of the vortex,” Mueller said.

The creatures, which have numbers that can sometimes reach into the trillions in the open ocean, are part of the Cnidaria group, which includes jellyfish and corals.

Once the creatures are stranded on beaches, they can disintegrate and die, though Mueller said classifying them as dead can be “fuzzy” since the animals don’t have complex brains or nervous systems.

“For all intents and purposes they’re dead… but if you pick one up, and say, I don’t know, lick one or eat it or something like that, you’ll definitely get stung, but it would be considered dead. The line isn’t so clear.” with such a simple creature.”

Carnivorous and tentacled organisms eat zooplankton and other small marine creatures. Although they resemble the venomous Portuguese man-of-war, wind sailors are not venomous. However, their stingers can irritate the skin.

“You may come across a fresh wash of Velella, dyeing the stretch of shoreline blue, but if they’ve been there a while, they’ll look like crispy, dry ovals of cellophane,” Point Reyes National Seashore wrote on Facebook. declaration.

The creatures often wash up on shores in the spring and summer, according to the Point Reyes National Coast, when strong winds — such as those associated with recent storms across California — push them towards the sand.

There is also some evidence that their presence could be a sign of El Niño events, which warm the water in the Pacific Ocean and cause a change in weather patterns around the world. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that El Niño will form this summer.

In 2014 and 2015, a Velella bloom washed billions of sailors ashore on beaches from California to Washington. Some experts say the massive blooms could become more common as climate change warms the waters they inhabit.

Dana Wharf Whale Watching did not immediately respond to an Insider’s request for comment.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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