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Oregon Beaches Experiencing 'Blue Tide' Of Velella Velella

Brian Bull

Beachgoers beware.  The incoming tide is bringing in scores of jelly-like critters with distinct sails, scattering them across the Oregon coastline.

Evonne Mochon Collura is with the Oregon Coast Aquarium.  She says these bluish-purple animals are either called “By the Wind Sailors” or by their Latin name Velella velella.

She adds they’re predatory, using their tentacles to sting plankton.

“So while they do have a stinging capability it’s not going to be as strong as something like a Man O’ War," Mochon Collura tells KLCC.

Credit Oregon Coast Aquarium
Velella stranded across South Beach, Oregon.

"But some folks might be sensitive, so really there’s no pronounced hazard like you would associate with other jellies, but if someone has sensitive skin then they could have a slight reaction to touching the tentacles.”

Once ashore, the hapless velella shrivel up and lose their color. People often mistake them for plastic. 

Strong winds during spring and summer sometimes cause mass strandings of these creatures.

Copyright 2019, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.