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Friday, March 27, 2015

How many tiny sails?

I know I just wrote about tiny By-the-wind Sailors (Velella velella) a few days ago.  I have to post about them again because I don't think I've ever seen so many of this size, and it seems worth documenting.

Here's a picture showing a variety of sizes with a ruler for scale.  The Velella on the left is the more typical size that you "expect" to encounter on a beach.


Below is the same picture, but it's a close-up of the left side of the ruler:


Now you can see the smallest of the Velella, just a couple of millimeters long.  They looked like this for almost the entire length of the beach that we walked, about 3/4 mile.

I know they were probably variable along that stretch of beach.  But if we used this picture just to come up with some sort of estimate then there were 25 tiny Velella/10 cm or 2.5/cm, and there are 160,934 cm in a mile, so there would have been ~400,000 tiny Velella washed up on a mile-long section of Salmon Creek Beach tonight.  No wonder I kept saying, "Wow" as we walked along next to the receding waves.
 

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