California beachgoers turned to social media this week to post photos online depicting thousands of blue sea creatures washing ashore — a phenomenon scientists say they haven't seen in about a decade.
Discover what electric blue objects washed ashore San Francisco's coastline last week: http://t.co/o06kBG2HTn#travelpic.twitter.com/0VxGeavFZN— En Route Traveler (@EnRouteTraveler) July 24, 2014
According to experts, it's likely the large colony of creatures, known as Velella velella, turned up on the San Fransisco shoreline this week because of strong winds.
The blue-tinted creatures float on the sea with their sail-like tops and are commonly referred to as the "by-the-wind sailor," according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Their diet consists of Zooplankton and fish eggs.
Amazing sight off BC coast, millions of Velella on their way to nowhere in particular #CMEClabhttp://t.co/WeWNjVDXM0pic.twitter.com/Wks04kFhtJ— Ross Whippo (@RossWhippo) July 27, 2014
Still, it's something scientists haven't seen in quite some time and, as KNTV noted, it's unclear exactly why they are turning up so late in the summer since they usually bloom around April or May.
"It's been eight years, plus or minus, that we've seen them," Monterey Bay Whale Watch marine biologist Nancy Black told the Santa Cruz Sentinel. "Why they've come now, it's hard to say."
It’s a Velella velella invasion at #OceanBeach: http://t.co/1XAfPFsFsk via @oceanbeachsurf— Parks Conservancy (@parks4all)July 29, 2014
"It's a little bit out of whack," Rich Mooi, curator of invertebrate zoology and geology at the California Academy of Sciences, added to the Los Angeles Times.
Another cool photo of my favorite bridge: These Velella Velella are cruzing all over ocean beach. #bythewind#sai... pic.twitter.com/NhUEG6OjMJ— aSFOTaxiCab (@aSFOTaxiCab) July 31, 2014
It's #WildlifeWednesday w/ By-the Wind Saliors or Velella velella. Learn more: http://t.co/KwOU3uRnWNpic.twitter.com/UJWn2H9p0e— PRNSA (@PRNSA) July 30, 2014
It's estimated that thousands, if not millions, of the creatures turned up on the California shores this week, prompting beachgoers to turn to social media and post photos.
Experts say they pose no threat to humans.
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