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664 Views 3 Replies Last post: May 14, 2013 9:16 PM by MikeHardman RSS
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May 14, 2013 5:48 PM

Strange creature on the seashore

Does anyone know what these creatures might be? We saw them on the beach in Formentera in the Balearics a few days ago. There were thousands of them washed up along the coastline, floating in on the waves like miniature sailing boats. Two locals told us they were Medussas (jellyfish?) but googling Medussa shows a totally different creature. I hope I have successfully attached two photos of them to help identification.

Thanks for any help in identifying these strange things.

Patrick

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    May 14, 2013 6:04 PM (in response to Patrick)
    Re: Strange creature on the seashore

    Hi Patrick,

    this looks to me like they are Velella velella a type of cnidarian. Very lovely and interesting organisms.

     

    Jen

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        May 14, 2013 9:16 PM (in response to Patrick)
        Re: Strange creature on the seashore

        Yes - Velella velella.

         

        I first saw these on the shore in northern California around 1986, and was very intrigued. A local explained they were called sailor-by-the-wind, with the 'sail' thought to be an aid to dispersal. I have never seen them since, nor thought about them. It is nice to be reminded; thanks.

         

        Looking at their geometry, there are obviously two forms, which might be called left-handed and right-handed. I was wondering about the significance/effect of that dimorphism, and in Google images I seemed to be seeing mainly what I was calling 'right-handed' ones. This page gives a comment on that - http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/AnimalDetails.aspx?enc=VsGX+Lst7QbsYfiv29EAGQ==

         

        Mike

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