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Are there Jellyfish in Manhattan Beach?

The White Velalla

If you’ve walked the beaches of southern California lately, you might have noticed lots of little jellyfish type animals washed up along the shoreline.

I first noticed them when my little one jumped back suddenly and yelled, “DAD! There’s jellyfish everywhere!” he made a disgusted face and asked, “…do they sting?”

Turns out, these little guys are a type of jellyfish that are not dangerous to touch. The White Velalla are actually blue while still alive. They are carnivorous, but only eat plankton. In fact once they wash onto the shore they are dead. Completely harmless, but cool looking.

They have what looks like a little sail, which is why they are sometimes called “By-the-Wind Sailor”. They float on the surface of the ocean and ride the wind.

Velalla velalla are “Hydrozoans” and other names include:

  • Sea raft
  • Purple sail
  • Little sail
  • By-the-wind sailor
Velalla velalla jellyfish, white on the sand

These Velella velalla live in warm waters, and around springtime each year they float down the coast with the wind and end up stranded on SoCal beaches. They litter the sand, and actually look like plastic trash from afar.

Sadly,

for them it’s the end of the line, they turn from blue to white and eventually wash away with the next high tide.

But…

I can’t help but think that maybe, the Velalla velalla’s built-in sail once sparked the ingenuity of ancient people that mastered sailing 1000’s of years ago.

Maybe, these jellyfish are responsible for mankind venturing across vast oceans, and thus starting new civilizations. Maybe, each spring is a memorial to the contributions that nature has made to our progress. Maybe their death is not in vain.

Velalla velalla jellyfish on the sand

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