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Friday, July 18, 2014

Summer sailors

I haven't been able to get out in the field as much recently, so pardon me if I've been missing this event (and please tell me if I have!).

Today I came across some very large By-the-wind Sailors (Velella velella) washing ashore on the beach.

Most of these individuals were 7-8 cm (~3 inches) across at the base of the float see next photo.  [With the mantle extended (the dark blue portion), they measured 10 cm (~4 inches) across.]

Although I submitted a 3-part series about Velella in March, I'm posting these pictures now because it's somewhat unusual to see Velella during the summer...and because I haven't seen Velella this large on Bodega Head in a long time (I think it's been years!).

The local ocean water is extremely warm right now — 62°F (16.7°C).  Perhaps there's a different water mass nearby that's brought a population of Velella near shore at an unusual time of year?

It'll be interesting to see if anything else unusual shows up with this warm ocean water.

P.S.  For more information about Velella velella, see previous posts: December surprise (2012) and Below the water line (2014).


Hollis said...

There was a strong wind coming from the south rather than the northwest about 10 days ago and we were wondering if they would begin to appear. Do you know how long it would take for them to get to shore after changing direction?


Emily said...

Jackie - it's interesting that you say it is unusual to see Velella in the summer months, as my first summer at BML (2003) they were SUPER abundant…that was my first introduction to them, so I have always associated them with summertime -- but I have never seen them as abundant as 2003.

Emily said...

For reference (this should be viewable), July 2003: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10102826354918913&l=ef9dea8062

beachmama said...

So nice to be able to send people your link to explain what these creatures are . . . dozens of people have asked and here is where I send them. Thanks so much for this great post! I'm seeing quite a few on Doran as well. Seems to me I've seen them in the fall in years past.