On the beach the other day we came across these little fellows….
.. or perhaps I should say their remains. Velella velella, or By-the-wind sailors are a type of free-floating hydrozoa that live on the surface of the ocean. They are just a few centimeters across. They sometimes get washed ashore, and what you see in the photo above is just the dried out and bleached remains. In the water they are blue and jelly like – but the jelly quickly dries once they have been stranded on-shore.
Their small stiff sail catches the wind and disperses them though the oceans. Interestingly on some the sail is set NW-SE while on others its set NE-SW. Because it relies solely on the sail for moving, mass strandings are relatively common not only on our Irish west coast but also elsewhere such as the West Coast of North America.
There are two website you can check out for more information:
And to see a video of how it lives on the open oceans check out
A great little find to add to my 16 for 2016 list.