Hundreds of “by-the-wind sailors” have washed up on Eastern Beach, the Nautilus Project said today in a statement.
The creatures were identified by the group’s marine biologist, Lewis Stagnetto, who urged beachgoers to exercise caution if handling them.
By-the-wind sailors, Velella velella, are Hydrozoans related to both Jellyfish (Scyphozoans) and Portuguese man o’ war (siphonophores).
Like Portuguese Man O’ War, they are colonial animals with each raft being the hydroid colony.
Their common name “By-the-wind sailors” is earned because they don’t swim like their jellyfish cousins and are driven by the wind like Portuguese man o’ war.
“These colonies do sting but only when then animals are attached to the raft,” Mr Stagnetto said.
“Typically, once they wash up on shore it’s only the raft and sail that is left, but please be careful when handling.”