What are those odd-looking sea creatures washing up by the thousands at the beach? – Orange County Register

Beachgoers enjoying balmy weather across Southern California this weekend encountered the strange sight of thousands of shriveled jellyfish-like marine creatures washing up on shorelines.

The underwater blue beauty’s scientific name is Velella velella. This tropical species is at the mercy of the winds and currents that push it out of the warm ocean, earning it the nickname sailor of the wind.

Naturalists, boaters, surfers and swimmers have been seeing them out in droves over the past week, their translucent “sails” poking into the sky and bobbing on the water.

In recent days, they have been spotted at various beaches in the South Bay, Huntington Beach, Crystal Cove, San Clemente, and San Diego.

“Once washed up on shore, they begin to wither and dry, turning transparent and looking more like pieces of plastic than sea life,” Newport Landing & Davies Locker Whale Watching Education and Communications manager Jessica Rodriguez wrote. post.

Although it looks like a jellyfish because it is gelatinous, it is not a jellyfish and does not have the characteristic sting of jellyfish, although the tentacles at the bottom can irritate the skin, he noted. They are actually colonial creatures related to the Portuguese Man O’ War.

Marine life isn’t always around, but strong spring storms often wash it into coastal waters and even wash it up on beaches. They often appear during El Niño events, when warm water from the tropics rushes into Southern California.

Rodriguez says it’s a feast for the hungry sunfish that love to eat it.

Newport Beach Chief Lifeguard Brian O’Rourke said there were many questions from the public as a large number of wind-borne sailors washed ashore around 3 p.m. Saturday and stuck to the shoreline. Stated.

“They’re everywhere,” he said. “Right now, there are a lot of them on the beach. They’re drying up, and I can smell something.”

O’Rourke said one of his lifeguards sailed to Catalina Island over the weekend and said more were floating in the water.

Matt Locke of Dana Point encountered them off Salt Creek Beach while swimming Saturday and marveled at the creatures floating on the surface.

He had seen them dead on the shore last year when their large bodies washed up in mid-April, but this was the first time he had seen them alive at sea.

“When they’re in the water, they’re alive. They seem to sting gently, but I didn’t feel it at all,” he said. “They look so neat and so weird.

“It’s so beautiful,” he added. “It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining through the sails. It was so cool.”

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