Mysterious blue creatures wash up on California beaches

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Photos by Alison Mytych

Visitors bewildered as thousands of by-the-wind-sailors stranded on shorelines

Last week, visitors to Westward and Zuma beaches in California were surprised to see thousands of blue, jellyfish-like creatures washed up on the sand. These creatures are known as “Velella velella,” or By-the-Wind-Sailors. They are equipped with a translucent, triangular sail that enables them to catch the wind and travel along ocean currents. While they travel, they feed on zooplankton and fish eggs.

Despite their unusual appearance, By-the-Wind-Sailors are not considered to be harmful to humans. However, they are susceptible to becoming stranded on shorelines during periods of strong winds, currents, and rough seas. According to Malibu’s official whale watcher, Alison Mytych, seeing them stranded on the beach is not a common occurrence. If they are unable to make it back into the water with the tide, they will eventually die on the sand.

By-the-Wind-Sailors have been observed at various beaches in California, including Huntington Beach, Manhattan Beach, Salt Creek Beach, and Zuma Beach in Malibu. They have also been spotted in other areas farther north. Despite their unfortunate fate when stranded on land, these fascinating creatures continue to intrigue beachgoers and scientists alike.