Velella velella stink up a Haida Gwaii beach
Thousands of sea creatures turn the shores blue
Thousands of little blue sea creatures have washed up on the shores of Haida Gwaii and have left a stench.
They are called Velella velella — small, carnivorous creatures related to the jellyfish.
They usually float in the open ocean but they can't swim, so their movements are dictated by the wind and the currents — earning them the nickname, by-the-wind sailors.
Sometimes when the wind changes direction they get pushed around and end up drifting to the shores where they pile up, looking like deflated balloons.
"When they hit the sand, it is probably a one way trip," said Kevin Raskoff, a marine biologist with Monterey Peninsula College in central California.
They start to smell when they begin to decompose.
It isn't uncommon for these hydrozoans to wash up on shores from time to time. They took over the shores of Tofino and Oregon a few years ago.
Scientists say the blue or green animals do sting, but not enough to harm people.
Raskoff said there is still so much more to learn about them.
He encourages anyone who has a run-in with these creatures to go to the Jellywatch website to add to a global project that collects observations of Velella velella and other similar creatures.
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