SANTA MONICA (CBSLA.com) — A curious type of jellyfish has been washing up all over the California coastline, from San Francisco to South Bay.
The blue creatures, nicknamed “Sailor Jellies” (scientific name: Velella velella), appeared in large numbers in the sands of Santa Monica Beach over the weekend, where fascinated visitors had the opportunity to inspect them.
“I wouldn’t even think that that’s a creature, a sea creature,” beach visitor Yasuko Kent said. “I thought it was just plastic.”
Tara Crow of the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium says this is the first time in seven years that she has seen the creatures in person, and suggested that their presence in California is due to oceanic currents.
“They have a little sail, and they go wherever the wind carries them, and right now the wind in the currents is heading in our direction,” Crow said.
Furthermore, Crow says the presence of the jellies may be indicative of warmer water temperatures, as well as the building of a potential El Niño pattern.
As opposed to their relative, the more notorious Portuguese Man O’ War (Physalia physalis), the Sailor Jellies’ toxins reportedly do not pose a threat to humans.
“That whip is so small, and your skin is thick enough that it just can’t get through to actually penetrate down to your nerve cells,” Crow said. “So you are getting stung when you touch them, you just can’t feel it.”
The washing up of large group of Sailor Jellies is an event that occurs globally, and experts say there is no reason for alarm.
“So definitely come down, check them out, pick them up. It’s okay to investigate.”