Malibu residents have reported a number of sightings of mysterious-looking sea creatures in recent weeks. They’re handheld and have a fascinating blue color, and they’re officially called “velella velellas.”
An easier nickname to remember, however, is “by-the-wind sailors,” according to Heal the Bay.
The little sailors have been spotted throughout California’s coast, and just over the weekend they were seen in Malibu and Santa Monica. The “colonial jelly” species are related to the Portuguese man-of-war, but are not harmful. Humans can pet them, though they do sting slightly.
As for their nickname, it stems from the great manpower, or seapower, humans can’t see with the naked eye.
“Each velella is actually a colony of tiny hydroids working together to create one whole organism. The base of the velella is an amazing cobalt blue and works as a float with stingers across the bottom to catch its plankton food,” Heal the Bay wrote.
Their newfound presence in the Santa Monica Bay could be indicative of the El Niño event predicted for later this year. Winds and currents can cause millions of the velellas to wash ashore as far north as Oregon.