Friday, March 11, 2016

By-the-Wind Sailor Jellyfish Wash Up On Cocoa Beach

By-the-Wind Sailor
By-the-Wind Sailors, also called sea rafts or Vella wash up on Cocoa Beach on March 11, 2016. Credit: Brevard Times

COCOA BEACH, Florida - Small, oval jellyfish with a tranparent sail and blue bottom are washing ashore on Brevard County beaches. By-the-Wind Sailors, also called sea rafts or Velella, are catching the prevailing southeasterly winds that have already blown ashore Portuguese Man-o-War on Florida's east coast.


By-the-Wind Sailors aren't really jellyfish. They are siphonophores - a colony of separate specialized organisms that only appear to be one marine animal.  Although they are related to Portuguese Man-o-War, Velella do not have a powerful sting to humans. Instead, their venom produces a slight itchiness to people who are not allergic to the toxin.

Velella feed on plankton. Their natural predators are Blue Sea Dragons which have also been spotted on Florida's east coast earlier this month.

Velella usually remain far out in the open sea and are not often seen on Florida's beaches unless a persistent wind blows Nature's tiny blue sailboats onto the beach.

Velella

Velella