Velella are a relative of the Portuguese man o’ war and are a community of organisms that function as one. They are also known as sea raft, by-the-wind sailors, purple sail, or little sail. (iStock photo)

Unusual sea life washes up in Metchosin

Vellela are propelled by the wind

Little creatures have been washing up on the beach in Metchosin at Weir’s Beach RV Resort.

Shane Kampala works at Weir’s and posted a picture on their Facebook page that he had been seeing the velella washing up on the beach in front of the resort for weeks.

These velella velella are in the family that includes corals and jellyfish.

Louise Page works in the department of biology at the University of Victoria, and her teaching and research has been in marine invertebrates. Page said she finds the velella interesting because they aren’t common in this area. Page said there was an influx of velella that washed ashore in Tofino and Uculet in 2015, and now it seems as though it’s happening again.

Velella are typically found in tropical or semi-tropical water bodies and aren’t common in the Northern Pacific, but can get blown up here on occasion and there seems to be a gradual northern push, she said.

The velella has a blue jelly-like rectangular base, and have a sail that is filled with air that makes it travel at the mercy of the wind, she said.

One velella is an entire community of organisms that function as one. They are also known as sea raft, by-the-wind sailors, purple sail, or little sail.

Kampala said the most of what he has seen washed ashore is the translucent sail part of the velella, but that he has seen hundreds of them and has been picking them up by the bag full.

“We’ve been here for 10 years and this is the first time we’ve seen them,” he said.


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