By-the-wind Sailors

On the beach the other day we came across these little fellows….

Velella velella

Velella velella

.. 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.

Velella velella

Velella velella


17 thoughts on “By-the-wind Sailors

    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      It’s the first time I’ve found them but I know that they have been on our shores before – though not every year – it all depends on the wind direction.


  1. Wild Daffodil

    Fascinating, I’ve never seen them before – thank you so much for sharing. I see a bit of white plastic there too – my Beach Clean eye is on the look out even in photos of amazing creatures. A great one for your 16 for 16.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. stephpep56

    Hi Murtaghs meadow, what a lovely post. These By the wind sailors are a favorite of mine (It may also be the name that attracts me to them) and I have found them a few times on the beaches of connemara, They evoke such a feeling of humility in me by their use of the wind (hermit crabs and the tiny squid which I also find sometimes on the connemara beaches) do the same. I now have to spend some time catching up on your posts as I have been caught up with lots of cycling around the west and haven’t had a lot of ‘on line ‘ time. Stephanie xxx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      Thank you for you kind words Stephanie. I love hermit crabs too though haven’t found any yet this year. I remember finding mini squid as a child but haven’t seen any for years. Nothing like a day explore our rich Atlantic shores! Happy cycling:)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: 16 for 2016 Final review | Murtagh's Meadow

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