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Rare jellyfish event hits the U.S. west coast

Velella velella © Dan Velella



Environment Updates

By-the-wind sailors land from Washington to California

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 1 August, 2014 - Millions of jellyfish-like creatures have washed up on beaches along the U.S. West Coast over the past month, giving the shoreline a purple gleam and, at times, an unpleasant odor, ocean experts said on Thursday.

Though not poisonous to most people, beachgoers should avoid the animals because their venom can cause stinging in the eyes and mouth, said Steve Rumrill, an expert at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Known as Velella velella to scientists, and more informally as "by-the-wind sailors," the creatures regularly cluster offshore each spring. But it is unusual for so many to wash ashore at once, especially this late in the summer, he said.

In addition to the millions that have been spotted on beaches from Southern California to Washington, millions more are floating near the ocean surface offshore, Rumrill added.

Courtney Sherwood

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