Velella velella


 

By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella  and Violet Sea Snails, Janthina


20 December 2014
A huge wreck of jellyfish and pelagic jellyfish-like animals occurred on the north coast of Cornwall with tens of thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, washed ashore on various shores, and a thousand plus Mauve Stinger Jellyfish, Pelagia noctiluca, at Sennen Cove, Watergate Bay and Fistral Beach (Newquay). The stranding also included thousands of Goose Barnacles, Lepas anatifera.

Reports by Steve Trewhella (UK Coastal Wildlife)
By-the-wind Sailor Report
Mauve Stinger Report
on Beachcombingfacebook
BMLSS Jellyfish
BMLSS Beachcombing
BMLSS Barnacles
 

24-25 May 2009
There were some By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella,  washed up this weekend at Hell's Mouth, Llyn Peninsula, Wales. They were probably more like 30 mm in diameter.

Report by Charlie Lindenbaum
on the Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo Group)


20 May 2009
Several thousand By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, were spotted amongst the Devonshire rock pools at around 6:00 pm on mid tide. All appeared dead with no signs of movement in the body/tentacle
Location - Between Stoke Point and Netton island   SX  555E 459N due south of Newton Ferrers.
Colours - Blue/Black/Clear
Size - two groups - from 4 to 6mm, and 10 up to 15mm
The sail directions - North-West to South-East

Report by David Dixon
via Doug Herdson (Fish Information Services)
on the Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo Group)
19 May 2009
At Praa Sands last night, my son Gilan and his friends reported thousands of live By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella stranding in the strong SouthSouth Westerly winds we've had here the last few days. On close examination I found a large difference in length. From Very small, 4-5 mm, on up to to 7 - 8 cm. all laid out in rows up the beach, graded in size by the wind, tide and topography, largest on the bottom.
Gilan also found a perfect Cuckoo ray egg case (hatched) in the same location.

Further reports have arrived from Cornish beaches including  Par Beach near St. Austell, and Kynance Cove.

Report by Rory Goodall and others
on the Cornish Mailing List
18 May 2009
A large wreck of millions of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, started getting washed ashore and extended, at least several miles east from Penzance, south Cornwall.
 
Velella Wreck (Photogrpah by Paul Semmens)

The specimens are very small, only a few millimetres in length. More Velella arrived on each tide.

Report and Photographs by Paul Semmens

6 October 2008
Thousands of  By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, were reported on Barvas Beach, Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland.
Report  by Troy Scott
2 October 2008
The first By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, reported this year are washed up in small numbers between LochEwe and Black Bay, Wester Ross, on the west coast of Scotland. The White-tailed Sea Eagle, Haliaeetus albicilla, can be seen in this area. Its main diet is reported to be other sea birds including Fulmars and Kittiwakes.
Gairloch Marine Life Centre
Eagles & Crofters
Report by Roddy Maciber


4 January 2007
Both species of Violet Sea Snail, three Janthina janthina and one Janthina pallida were discovered on the beach at Perranporth, Cornwall, (SW 75).

Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List


2 January 2007
At Gwithian beach, Cornwall, (SW 54), 15 Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered on the strandline.

Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List


30 December 2006
I managed to find a Violet Sea Snail, Janthina janthina, amongst the By-the-Wind Sailors at last on South Milton beach, it has taken me nearly twenty years of looking south Devon beaches to find this delightful gastropod mollusc!

Report by Martin Catt on the Cornish Mailing List


26 December 2006
I fulfilled a life-long ambition to find a Violet Sea Snail at Perranporth, south Cornwall, where we discovered 14 Janthina janthina and 7 Janthina pallida between us. I was surprised to find Janthina pallida as I was previously unaware that they reached our shores.

Report by Sue Hocking via Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List


20 December 2006
 
Janthina (Photograph by Paul Semmens) Janthina (Photograph by Paul Semmens) Janthina (Photograph by Paul Semmens)

Three Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered on Marazion beach in south Cornwall.

Report and Photographs by Paul Semmens on the Cornish Mailing List


17 December 2006
Twenty Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered along the beach at Woolacombe, North Devon. Most were about 10 mm in size, and some were still alive with their bubble rafts and "inked" when placed in a bucket.  They were washed in with tiny (max 12 mm) By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, Buoy Barnacles, Dosima fascicularis, and a small 15 cm Triggerfish, Balistes capriscus.

Report by David Jenkins via Gavin Black, Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC)
on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo Group) & the Seaquest SW Yahoo Group


14 December 2006
At Sennen, Cornwall, two species of Violet Sea-snails, Janthina janthina and Janthina pallida, as well as two sea beans Entada gigas and Caesalpina bondoc were discovered on the strandline.

Report by Paul Gainey via Stella Turk on the Cornish Mailing List


11 December 2006
By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were found washed up on Blackpool beach, Lancashire.

Report by a BBC News Reporter (Manchester)
 
7 December 2006
Two seperate reports were received of hundreds of Velella velella from Aberdovey in Wales. There are also the first reports of a few from the Sussex coast.
Pleuston

17 November to 3 December 2006
Reports of Velella velella have come in from the Isle of Skye (furthest north) to Hengistbury Head in Dorset (furthest east up the English Channel).
 

Velella on on Eastern Green, between Penzance and Long Rock, Cornwall
Photographs by Paul Semmens

4 December 2006
Even more Velella velella are coming in. On the shores of Cardigan Bay, Wales, there are millions in the sea and they will become stranded on the shore when the tide recedes.

Report by Telephone Call


29 November 2006
We found numerous Velella velella on the beach at Hengistbury Head (Grid ref: SZ 174906) in Dorset. We had never seen them before (despite a lot of walking on beaches). They were many different sizes (3-12 cm), most blue edged, occasionally transparent.

Report by Elizabeth on the on the Marine Wildlife of the NE Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo Group)


26 November 2006
 
Velella (Photograph by Helen Lee) Velella (Photograph by Bella) Velella massed on the high tide mark (Photograph by Eilir Daniels)

Thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were washed up on Welsh beaches, notably a narrow but continuous line of Velella velella washed up on the high tide mark at Borthwen, Rhoscolyn, Anglesey (southern end of Ynys Cybi - Holy Island), north Wales (Ian Wright); literally thousands stranded on a small bay at the Mumbles, Swansea (Jess Pitman); a swarm amounting to about two hundred were washed up on Porthllysgi beach off the coast of St. Davids in south west Wales (Eleri Davies) with hundreds, possibly thousands, stranded and dead on the pebbles on the nearby Newgale Beach (Helen Lee); thousands, if not millions, of By-the-wind Sailors washed up on a beach at Criccieth (on the southern coast of the Lleyn Peninsula), Gwynedd, north Wales (Eilir Daniels); and an armada, a thick layer of jellyfish about a metre thick on the strandline in both directions at Cefn Sidan Beach at Pembrey, south west Wales (Bella).

There were By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, at Constantine on the North Cornwall coast. They were mentioned to me by someone that had seen them and they were 'in the hundreds' and were already transparent.

Hearsay Report by Amanda Bertuchi
24 November 2006
Guernsey Sea Fisheries officer David Wilkinson reported that lots of Velella velella were washing ashore on (2:30 pm) at Petit Port on the south coast of Guernsey, Channel Islands, at the water's edge on the low tide.
Report by Richard Lord (Guernsey)


We (Devon Wildlife Trust) had a report of thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, on Saunton Sands, north Devon. These were probably the same as those washed in previously except a number of Goose Barnacles were also noted attached to flotsam and jetsam amongst them.  All of these beaches face west.

Report by Gavin Black on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo Group)


19 November 2006
A large number, probably several hundred, of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were washed up on beach at Newborough, on the southern cost of the Isle of Anglesey, north Wales.
Multipmap Location

Report by Tony Skinner
18 November 2006
Thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were reported being washed up on Saunton, Croyde and Woolacombe beaches in North Devon. All were noted as being of the same size, whereas in the past some had been tiny (finger nail size and smaller) plus larger colonies, all of the recent colonies were 50 - 75 mm across.
Report by Gavin Black on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean (Yahoo Group)


2 November 2006
After a period of warm southerly and south-westerly winds, the weather changed. Strong colder winds came from the north-east and an easterly direction. By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, entered St. Peter Port harbour on Guernsey's east coast, driven in by the wind. Commercial fisherman Clive Brown called to tell me that about 25 Velella velella were washed up on the shore near his dinghy in the harbour. I went down to the Albert marina and I was able to collect four Velella velella by reaching out from a pontoon. This picture shows one of them mirrored by the water's surface:


Velella
Report & Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Sea Lord Photography





31 October 2006
Tens of thousands of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were wrapped up in the Thongweedand Zostera Eelgrass on Porth Hellick Beach, St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly.
 
Velella (Photograph by Rosemary Parslow)
Velella (Photograph by Rosemary Parslow)
Velella (Photograph by Rosemary Parslow)

I heard they had also come ashore on other beaches on the east of the island. They were still quite fresh, though dead.

Report and Photographs by Rosemary Parslow


25 October 2006
I was approximately 5 to 6 miles west of the Casquettes, off Alderney, Channel Islands, and I saw about ten Velella velella being blown past our boat in a few minutes.

Report by Timothy Harvey
18-25 September 2004
The massive stranding of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, has now been established that it has stretched much further than just the Cornish coast and that the numbers were in billions. Reports of large numbers of large specimens and huge numbers occurred all along the Welsh coast as far north as Anglesey and almost certainly further north as well.
 
 
Velella on a Cornish beach in September 2004 (Photograph by Jonathan Smith)
First strandings on Velella on the sandy beach at Polzeath, Cornwall
Photograph by Jonathan Smith
First strandings on Velella on the sandy beach at Polzeath, Cornwall
Photograph by Jonathan Smith

Some Reports:

24 September 2004
Thousands of Velella were washed up at Woolacombe, north Devon in unprecedented numbers, estimated up to 200 a square metre!

Report by David Jenkins via Gavin Black
Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC)
on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group


At Westwood Ho!, north Devon Velella are two or three inches (50 - 75 mm) thick on the shore.

c.18 September 2004
Several hundred By-the-wind Sailors arrived on the beach on the Isle of Islay, west Scotland. The flesh rotted away quite quickly.

Report by Malcolm Ogilvie on UK Wildlife Yahoo Group


16 September 2004
Velella were found on the shore between Newquay in Wales and Aberaeron with a  length of 60 mm +. There was one every three metres or so around the rocks at Cei Bach thinning out in the sand areas. All were strikingly large compared to those I have found before in south Wales and Cornwall before. All had soft tissue and colour but were dead and disintegrating.

Report by Ian Hughes on the
Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
Early September 2004
We found large amounts of Velella velella out off the Pembrokeshire coast back at the start of Septernber and the ensuing storms seem to have deposited many of them on our beaches in the west of Pembrokeshire (at least). Their small size make them easy to overlook at sea and also on dark sand but they are exquisite jewel like creatures.
Report by Fred Jacob on the
Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
21-23 September 2004

Velella on Constantine Bay beach, north Cornwall, (Photograph by Amanda Bertuchi)

Velella on Constantine Bay beach, north Cornwall
Photograph by Amanda Bertuchi

A huge mass stranding of By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, occurred all along the north Cornish coast from Sennen Cove (near land's End) up to Polzeath (near Padstow) and beyond. (As the gull flies this is a distance of 25+ miles and with all the coves and inlets the shoreline is over double this.) Coming in on the top of the tide, there were hundreds of millions* of them, all large, the largest I found was 85 mm, and all them were intact. Millions of Barnacles were washed up along the strandline.

(* Numbers not calculated. At Gwithian they formed a band 10 metres wide on the shore and stretching for over a mile. The above photograph understates the extent of the  stranding.)

The Buoy Barnacles, Lepas fascicularis,started coming in on the same tide as the Velella. I've seen with my own eyes on Porthcothan (SW 8572), Treyarnon and Constantine and Paul Gainey saw them on Gwithian, all in north Cornwall. I'd be very surprised if they weren't all the way up the coast and I'd number them in millions, all big. The Goose Barnacles, Lepas,are occurring in their usual quantity for this time of the year, if anything, less. To give you an idea, on my beach, Pothcothan, 25 acres at low tide: Velella approximately one million, Buoy Barnacles: 2000+, Goose Barnacle colonies: 7.
At least one Portuguese Man o'War, Physalia physalis, was also washed up and there were undoubtably more.

Report by Nick Darke via the Cornish Mailing List


The Buoy Barnacles were attached to floats that they had secreted that had a texture like that expanding foam.

Comment by Clare Mullen on the
Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group


BMLSS Strandlining
BMLSS Barnacles

Link to the News page 2004


6 June 2003
Millions (literally) of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, (a jellyfish-like animal) are being washed up alive to perish on the shores of Cornwall, now reaching up the English Channel as far east as Polperro and Looe.  All are a similar very small size, around 15 mm in length, and still have fleshy body parts attached.
Report by Jon Makeham on the Cornish Mailing List
More Cornish Reports
Velella page
Velella Notes
MARLin Velella Web Page

4 June 2003
We have got loads of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, in the Fowey estuary, Cornwall, as far up as Wisemans reach. They are coming in by the bucket load. Lots were stranded on Readymoney beach and there were lots washing in the night. I haven't seen any Violet Sea Snails, but am going out on the water this morning so shall look out.

Report by Jane Smith on the Cornish Mailing List


4 June 2003
I was on Charmouth beach in Dorset doing a little fossil hunting and suddenly found myself lying (best way to find tiny crinoids etc) in a wreck of tiny jellyfish. They had a bizarre transparent float and were a vivid blue being only around 25 to 30 mm long. These are By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella.

Report by Dave Walters
28 May 2003
David Muirhead sailed through a large fleet of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, on the SE side of Fal Bay. He said they were being tossed around and he wondered if they could capsize.
Michael Ennis reported a number at Nansudwell, Cornwall.
Report by Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List


26 May 2003
Hundreds of By-the-Wind Sailors seen approximately half a mile SE of Guernsey, Channel Islands in the afternoon.

Report by Tim Harvey on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group


24 May 2003
Polurrian Beach, Mullion, Cornwall:  I found hundreds of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, on the falling tide on Saturday and by the smell/remains they have been coming ashore for several days.

Report by John Hipkiss


21 May 2003
Ray Lawman has reported to Ruth Williams that he there were about half a million Velella velella at "Soapy Cove" on the Lizard, Cornwall.

Report by Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List
More Cornish Reports

Thousands of tiny By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, are coming ashore on the Isles of Scilly . Porthlow on St. Mary's (Porthloo on maps) was covered with them, most only about 10 mm in length with only the occasional larger one, and the larger ones were very large at approx. 50 mm, with none in-between. I don't think I have seen them either as big or as small
before.

Report by David Mawer (Isles of Scilly ) via Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List


20 May 2003
Hundreds of By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, (a jellyfish-like animal) are washed up on Sennen Cove, Cornwall.
Sennen Cove Wildlife Page

Report by Terry George on the Cornish Mailing List


By-the-Wind Sailors, Velella velella, are being reported again in the sea and washed up on the strandline on the north Cornish shores and Salcombe Harbour, south Devon.

Report from Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth)
on the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
MARLin Velella Web Page
 

By 1 February 2003 the westerlies have blown plenty of By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella, and the Mauve Stinger, Pelagia noctiluca, on to Sennen Cove, Cornwall, above the high tide mark.

Report by Darren Smith on the Cornish Mailing List


Velella sail (QX3 image by Andy Horton)28 January 2003
Thousands of By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella, are discovered washed up, alive or very freshly dead, on Perranporth Beach, Cornwall, together with the Violet Snail, Janthina janthina, (two shells) that preys on Velella. This gastropod is rarely recorded in British seas even when there are large numbers of Velella stranded. It is always worth looking for this attractive and fragile shell.

Rory Goodall has also found large numbers of Velella, on Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall.

Report by Paul Gainey from Stella Turk MBE on the Cornish Mailing List


15 November 2002
After the recent gales, further large numbers of freshly dead Velella are washed up on the Dorset (Studland) coast with over 50 counted in a stretch of strandline of 100 metres. The dead Velella were still coloured blue which showed that that they have only recently died. They disintegrate and turn white over night. There were live specimens at five miles off the Dorset coast.

Report by Steve Trewhella (Poole, Dorset)
Velella (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)27 May 2002
"Millions" of Velella velella, the By-the Wind Sailor were discovered by Nick Darke on Porthcothan Beach, Cornwall. They are freshly dead, the float having the animals or at least fragments of the soft tissue, still present. They are probably all along the north coast, especially at Perranporth, so I will be interested to have an idea of the maximum density per sq. metre. The last really big incursion was in June/July 1981 when Rennie Bere counted 150 to 200 per sq. metre, as they came in on the tide (i.e. not heaped up in catchment areas) and he estimated 100,000 for the stretch of shore at Bude.
Report from Stella Turk on the Cornish Mailing List
Many By-the Wind Sailor were also discovered washed up further east on the shore at Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset.
Report by Peter Tinsley (Dorset Wildlife Trust)
On 30 May 2002 thousands of Velella velella were also washed up along the tide line on the beach at Nicholston Burrows on the Gower peninsular, South Wales.
Report by Helen James
> 3 June 2002
Thousands of By-the-Wind Sailors were washed up on the beach adjacent to Rosslare Harbour in County Wexford, Ireland.
Report by Angus Buttanshaw
June 2002
We fished out a specimen of Velella earlier from the middle of Kimmeridge Bay earlier in the week and dropped it in a small pot of seawater.  The pot was quickly filled with lots of small dots which turned out to be medusae, most of which were not fully formed, though a small number were pulsing weakly.
Report by Peter Tinsley (Dorset Wildlife Trust)
via the Marine Wildlife of the North-east Atlantic Ocean Group
Velella (Photograph by Steve Trewhella)On 4 June 2002 many washed up Velella were discovered hidden amongst the pebbles on Aberystwyth south beach, on the west coast of Wales on the shore of Cardigan Bay.
Report by Suzanne Breeze
By 5 June 2002 there were millions of Velella velella washed ashore on Rhosilli beach, a west facing beach at the end of the Gower peninsula in Wales.
Report by John Davies (Swansea University)
Thousands of dead, dried Velella on the beach at Caswell Bay, South Gower, with quite a few live ones bobbing around in the surf too on 10 June 2002.
Report by Adam Cooper
By 8 June 2002 the swathes (thousands) of Velella looked like a 300 metres band of oil washed up on the shore at Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, SW Wales, from below the car park to Little Furzenip. There was a distinct smell of rotting sea life.
Report by David Saunders via UK Wildlife
By 15 June 2002 millions of Velella had been washed up on the sandy beach of Porth Ty'n Twyn, on the south-west coast of Anglesey (Ynys Môn) between the small towns of Aberffraw and Rhosneigr. The Velella formed five separate strandlines and the stink of the decaying animals was horrendous.
Report by Barry Wright
On 2 June 2002 I have had two reports of hundreds of Velella velella being washed up on the South of the Isle of Man, one report from Scarlett Point and another at Chapel Bay, Port St. Mary.
Report by Mike Bates (Port Erin Marine Lab.)
Also by 10 June 2002, Graham Mercer and the Harbourmaster at Portpatrick, reported thousands of Velella from the inner and harbour at Portpatrick, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. This is the most northerly record of the current strandings and they were not known to the local fishermen.
On 15-16 June 2002, smaller numbers of Velella were washed up here on the Isle of Cumbrae. This appears to be the first record in the Firth of Clyde (which has been fairly well studied since the 1880s at least!).
Reports by Dr. Philip Smith (University Marine Biological Station Millport, Isle of Cumbrae)


13 June 2002 found thousands of Velella were washing in on Kilmory Bay, Sound of Jura, Argyll, Scotland. There was a lot of foam along the tideline at the time and they were quite fresh. This is a south-west facing bay inshore of Islay and Jura in the western islands and the furthest north record for 2002.

Report by Robin Harvey
Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Dunstaffnage Marine Laboratory
c. 9 June 2002
Thousands of Velella are washed upon the north Devon strandline from Westward Ho!, Croyde and Woolacombe.
Report by Gavin Black (Devon Biodiversity Records Centre)


9 June 2002
Large numbers of dead Velella along strandline of sandy beach at Kilmore Quay (SE Ireland).  Estimated to be in excess of 300 Velella per metre of strandline for about 50 metres (= 15000).  They were a bit dried out so must have been there for a few days.

Report by Jon Moore (Porcupine MNH Society)
23 June 2002
The first dead Velella is washed up on a Sussex beach at Bognor rocks. This is the most easterly record so far up the English Channel.
Report by John Knight (West Sussex Countryside Rangers)
Bionomics of Velella (notes)

15 November 2002
After the recent gales, further large numbers of freshly dead Velella are washed up on the Dorset (Studland) coast with over 50 counted in a stretch of strandline of 100 metres. The dead Velella were still coloured blue which showed that that they only recently dead. They disintegrate and turn white over night. There were live specimens at five miles off the Dorset coast.

Report by Steve Trewhella (Poole, Dorset)


7 December 2001
Hundreds of By-the-wind Sailors,Velella velella, are washed up at Prisk Beach (or Prisk Cove) on the rock and shingle shore at the northern mouth of the Helford River, south Cornwall. They were about 5 cm across and despite their large numbers could easily be overlooked. Some sand had also been deposited on the pebbled beach and this is how they were noticed because they stood out from the sand. Some of them had turned white in colour. Is this from decay?
Report by Michael Ennis
In my experience, in south Cornwall, when stranded they tend to do it en masse, with hundreds being normal. Live or recently dead colonies are a striking blue/violet colour. Shortly after death they turn white, and after two to three days all that is normally left are the tough sails, which can remain for some weeks, although often overlooked due to (presumably) being small, transparent, and looking like packaging material. Were any Janthinagastropods noted amongst these strandings?
Reply by Jon Makeham


 6 December 2001
Report from Mr David Leggat.
Cadgwith Cove, the Lizard, Cornwall.  Large (hundreds probably) numbers of the hydrozoans, By-the-wind Sailors Velella velella, between 2 and 7 cm in diameter washed up on this east facing shore.

 Report from Doug Herdson (National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth)


October 1999
Tens of thousands By-the-Wind Sailor, Velella velella, were discovered by Paul Gainey, washed up on the between Gwithian and Mexico Beach beaches on the north coast of Cornwall. They were also reported at Sennen Cove (near Land's End) by Jayne Herbert. In December 1999, hundreds were reported by Chris Stumbles on a Cornish shore.
 

     Photograph by Richard Lord

9 October 1999
High up on Saline Beach near the slipway I found a By-the-wind sailor, Velella velella, in good condition.  The pelagic colonial hydroid had most of its tentacles and was a vivid blue colour.    Richard Lord (Guernsey).

Underside of Velella
Photograph by Richard Lord
 
 

January 1998
Jon Makeham also discovered about 500 washed up Velella at Looe, southern Cornwall.  This is a lesser number than in previous years.

There are more records of stranded Velella in the BMLSS archives (before 1996 when computer records were collated for the web site entries). Notably, mass strandings in 1992, reported by Amanda Young (Anglesey).



 

Rhizostoma pulmo    News Report 1999
 


Norwegian Marine ***
These web pages are recommended for photographs of Jellyfish
 

  Cnidaria Page


More information


> What is the longevity of this species?  Does Velella velella have a
> planuLarva in its life cycle?
> Is it true that there are left-handed and right-handed 'sails', which
> determine where they end up?  I cannot see the advantage of a sail which
> causes millions of them to be blown on-shore to their death.

dear Richard
Velella velella is a hydroid more common in subtropical to tropical off-shore waters. Strandings are
thus accidents. The sail is made of a chitinous substance and is homologous to the periderm of
"ordinary" hydroids. Velella is actually a polyp colony turned upside down  and the hydranths are
underneath the float. They are differentiated into three main forms, functioning as tentacle-like
food capturing individuals at the rim, as a central polyp that digests the food, and as gonozooids
that produce tiny medusae.

The colony releases numerous medusae, but mature ones have only rarely been found in the plankton.
The full life cycle of Velella is not known, as the earliest developmental stages presumably take
place in depths of below 1000 m. It is thus not known whether there is a planuLarva in the cycle.
The earliest stages (conaria, ratiaria) are already comparable to small colonies. These stages
produce oil droplets which render them floating and they thus ascend to the surface.

Mature Velella's exist in two form, the left and right sailing forms. There are several papers
examining this dimorphism. It is thought that the prevailing winds can indeed sort out the two
forms, so that depending on the major wind direction you will find stranded animals that are either
predominatly left or right sailing forms.

For further information I suggest using one of the following publications:

Kirkpatrick, P. A., & P. R. Pugh 1984. Siphonophores and velellids.
            Synopses of the British Fauna (New Series) 29: 1-154.
Brinckmann-Voss, A. 1970. Anthomedusae/Athecata (Hydrozoa,
           Cnidaria) of the Mediterranean. Part I. Capitata.
            Fauna e Flora Golfo di Napoli 39: 1-96, pls 1-11.

more details are e. g. found in:
Bieri, R. 1959. Dimorphism and size distribution in Velella and Physalia.
        Nature, Lond 184: 1333-1334.
Bieri, R. 1977. A morphometric study of Velella (Hydrozoa) from
        different oceans. - Publs Seto mar. biol. Lab. 24: 59-62.
Francis, L. 1991. Sailing downwind: aerodynamic performance
        of the Velella sail. - Journal of Experimental Biology 158: 117-132.
Savilov, A. I. 1961. The distribution of the ecological forms of the
        by-the-wind sailor VelelLata Ch. and Eys., and the P
        ortuguese man-of-war Physalia utriculus (La-Martinière) Esch.,
        in the North Pacific. - Trudy Inst. Okeanol. 45: 223-239.
 

kind regards,
Peter
_____________________________________________
Peter Schuchert
Museum d'Histoire Naturelle
1 Route Malagnou
CH-1208 Geneva
Switzerland

Taxonomy of Hydrozoa

my hydrozoa site (new portraits added 22.10.2001)
http://www.geocities.com/peterschuchert/Hydrozoa.htm
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> Has anybody got an information source on the reproduction of
       Velella please?
 
 

The complete life cycle of Velella, which includes a tiny medusa, is not
entirely known. The mature medusa has been found in nature only once or
twice and the earliest stages of the life cycle, meaning fertilisation and
early development to the so called conaria larva, are unknown. They likely
take place in deep waters, despite the medusa having symbiontic algae.

For a good résumé see:
Brinckmann-Voss A. 1970.Anthomedusae/Athecatae (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria) of the
Mediterranean. Part I Capitata.  Fauna e Flora del Golfo di Napoli vol. 39,
pp. 1-96, 11 pls.
 

kind regards,
Peter Schuchbert
Peter.Schuchert@mhn.ville-ge.ch <Peter.Schuchert@mhn.ville-ge.ch>
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List-Info: https://maillists.uci.edu/mailman/listinfo/cnidaria

I fished one out of Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, in a cup last year (2003) - it then deposited hundreds of tiny medusae into the cup.  I suppose they had no intention of sailing to England and would normally reproduce in mid ocean

Peter Tinsley
 
 

It was reported by Prof Walter Garstang (1946), and there is an account in Sir Alister Hardy's classic book The Open Sea, Book I The World of Plankton; Chapter 7 pp 110 to 113.

I find it a bit confusing but I read it as that what we are seeing are the asexual stage, they release sexual medusae (what Peter saw) and the offspring of these (planulae larvae) are called Conaria.  These sink into a deep water mass, which is likely to be moving in a different direction to the surface water where the medusae and asexual forms are.  This will disperse them.  When the float zooid develops they rise to the surface and then the individuals with a left twist are dispersed by the wind in one direction and those with a right twist on the different course.

regards, Doug Herdson



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