Friday, March 30, 2018

Coastal BC Animals: Velella Velella

V is for Velella Velella
(By the Wind Sailors) 

In May I had a wonderful three day trip to the west coast of Vancouver Island in Coastal British Columbia. I went with my good friend, Yvonne Maximchuk. She lives up the coast in remote Echo Bay. She's an author, artist and potter. An amazing woman!

She met me at the Comox Ferry Terminal and we drove to both Tofino and Ucluelet on the west side of the island.

Long Beach at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

In the middle we stopped at Long Beach, part of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.

Velellas washed ashore.
As we walked the sandy beach, we discovered hundreds of thousands of small chitinous bodies. They were bunched together at the different high tide marks and quickly drying out. These were the remains of Velella velella commonly known as sail jellyfish or by-the-wind sailors.

Velella velella are in the Phylum Cnidaria and are related to anemones and jellyfish. Velellas are small, about 4-8 cm long. They have a flat oval body made of concentric circles of gas filled chitin chambers and an upward structure that serves as a sail to transport them across the ocean surface.


Interestingly, some Velellas have a right leaning 45 degree angle sail, and others have a left leaning sail.


Below the surface are specialized polyps for feeding, reproduction and defense. In this way, they are similar to the large jellyfish known as a Portuguese Man of War. Except Velelas are so small they don't have much of a sting.
  

They typically live far off shore, feeding on plankton. Occasionally redirected warm currents and/or strong winds will bring them ashore to die in massive amounts.

Yvonne holding a dried and fresh Velella velella.

So if you're walking a sandy beach and see what looks like oval bits of plastic, don't despair. It may not be litter, just the remains of small but numerous by-the-wind sailors.

For ABC pictures from around the world, stop by the ABC Wednesday blog. This is the twenty-first round of the meme originally established by Denise Nesbitt. It has now being maintained by Melody and her team.

Thanks for visiting my post this week. I'm linking up with Camera Critters and Saturday's Critters. Check them out for more great animal pictures. -- Margy

16 comments:

  1. A unique looking creature.
    Ann

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    1. To see so many stranded next to each other on the beach was an amazing sight. The older ones had their soft body parts gone so they looked like little bits of plastic. - Margy

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  2. Lovely photos of a beautiful place ~ love the sea urchins ~

    Happy Times to you,
    A ShutterBug Explores
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

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    1. It was beautiful on a calm day, but I hear it is even more beautiful with a storm blowing in high crashing waves. - Margy

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  3. Velella Velella is a pretty name. Its other names are just as cool and creative. They remind me of fingerprints.

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    1. Yes they do now that you say it. - Margy

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  4. Those by the wind sailors are interesting little creatures. I saw them once out at Inskip Point and had no idea what they were. Fortunately I have knowledgeable friends and they identified them .I have only seen them once out there and don't know if they are rare or if I have just not been out at the right time.

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    1. I guess they are common out at sea, but on rare occasions get blown into shore during big storms. - Margy

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  5. Never heard of it nor seen it before… had to look it up in my own language and that was also new to me
    Nice educative choice for V, thank you

    Have a splendid, ♥-warming ABC-Wednes-day / -week
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♪ (ABC-W-team)
    http://melodymusic.nl/22-V

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    1. It was new for me as well. But my friend Yvonne used to go out commercial fishing in the Pacific off Vancouver Island so she was familiar with them. - Margy

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  6. Literally, viva la difference!

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    1. There are all kinds of creatures in this world. - Margy

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  7. Strange critter ! Have never seen one like that !

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    1. It was my first time too. We don't get them here on the Inside Passage. They are wide Pacific Ocean dwellers. - Margy

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  8. I have sen the jellyfish but not the velellas. They are new to me. Great post and photos. Thanks so much for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Monday, enjoy your day and new week. PS, thanks for the comment.

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    1. We get lots of moon jellyfish here in the Strait of Georgia, but not the Velellas. - Margy

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