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Jellyfish in South Florida: Hundreds of Creatures Flood Beaches

Image: Jellyfish in South Florida: Hundreds of Creatures Flood Beaches
(Facebook/City of Hallandale Beach)

By    |   Monday, 04 Apr 2016 07:02 AM

Jellyfish began washing up on South Florida beaches by the hundreds last week, forcing spring break visitors to watch their step.

While the small, purplish Velella velella jellyfish — also known as Blue Sailors or By-the-Wind Sailors — do not sting (though they bear a striking resemblance to Portuguese man-of-war), Hallandale Beach lifeguards warned beachgoers about their presence and urged them to be careful none-the-less, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

The Velella velella normally float on the surface in the open ocean, riding wind and water currents in search of food using a short of a hardened, triangular "sail," according to National Geographic. In years when the wind changes direction, they are pushed toward shore where they usually die.

They are cousins to their stinging family member, the Portuguese man-of-war, catching mostly plankton for food by using their tentacles that hang down in the water, WFOR-TV noted.

"The city workers cleaned them up this morning," city spokesman Peter Dobens told the Sun-Sentinel on Thursday. "But as the waves and the tide come in, more of them come in. They're still coming ashore up and down the area."

The jellyfish are about one to three inches long, and their purplish-blue color makes them stand out in the sand.

"There are bajillions of them," Charles Messing, a marine biology professor at Nova Southeastern University, told the newspaper. "This is a huge landing. You walk 10 feet of beach and can see hundreds and hundreds in just a few paces . . . They're an interesting addition to our beaches, when the wind blows in the right direction at the right time of year. I expect they're all up and down the coast of southeast Florida."

Last May, Live Science noted that billions of Velella velella
may have washed up on West Coast beaches from Washington state to Southern California, while another crop of the jellyfish invaded western beaches in 2014.

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Jellyfish began washing up on South Florida beaches by the hundreds last week, forcing spring break visitors to watch their step.
jellyfish, south florida, beach
317
2016-02-04
Monday, 04 Apr 2016 07:02 AM
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