and Violet Sea Snails,
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.
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.
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
Further reports have arrived from Cornish beaches including Par Beach near St. Austell, and Kynance Cove.
The specimens are very small, only a few millimetres in length. More Velella arrived on each tide.
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).
2 January 2007
At Gwithian beach, Cornwall, (SW 54), 15 Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered on the strandline.
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!
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.
20 December 2006
Three Violet Sea Snails, Janthina, were discovered on Marazion beach in south Cornwall.
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.
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.
11 December 2006
By-the-wind Sailors, Velella velella, were found washed up on Blackpool beach, Lancashire.
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).
on on Eastern Green, between Penzance and Long
Photographs by Paul Semmens
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.
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.
26 November 2006
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.
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.
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.
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:
Report & Photograph by Richard Lord (Guernsey)
Sea Lord Photography
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.
I heard they had also come ashore on other beaches on the east of the island. They were still quite fresh, though dead.
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.
Photograph by Jonathan Smith
Photograph by Jonathan Smith
Thousands of Velella were washed up at Woolacombe, north Devon in unprecedented numbers, estimated up to 200 a square metre!
At Westwood Ho!, north Devon Velella are two or three inches (50 - 75 mm) thick on the shore.
Several hundred By-the-wind Sailors arrived on the beach on the Isle of Islay, west Scotland. The flesh rotted away quite quickly.
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.
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.)
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
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:
approximately one million, Buoy Barnacles:
2000+, Goose Barnacle
At least one Portuguese Man o'War, Physalia physalis, was also washed up and there were undoubtably more.
The Buoy Barnacles were attached to floats that they had secreted that had a texture like that expanding foam.
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.
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.
26 May 2003
Hundreds of By-the-Wind Sailors seen approximately half a mile SE of Guernsey, Channel Islands in the afternoon.
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.
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.
Thousands of tiny By-the-Wind
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
Photograph by Richard Lord
Jon Makeham also discovered about 500 washed up Velella at Looe, southern Cornwall. This is a lesser number than in previous years.
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).
pulmo News Report 1999
Norwegian Marine ***
These web pages are recommended for photographs of Jellyfish
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.
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.
Velella's exist in two form, the left and right sailing forms. There are
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:
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.
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.
Museum d'Histoire Naturelle
1 Route Malagnou
Taxonomy of Hydrozoa
hydrozoa site (new portraits added 22.10.2001)
> Has anybody got an information
source on the reproduction of
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
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.
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
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
Page (with jellyfish-like animals)