Stay Eat Events Weather Beaches

Weird Little Purple Critter Returns to Oregon Coast, by the Millions

Published 03/06/2016 at 5:51 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Velella photo by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium

(Warrenton, Oregon) – They were reported seen in sizable numbers in mid-February down on the southern Oregon coast, and now they've completely carpeted one beach on the north coast this week. (Velella photos by Tiffany Boothe, Seaside Aquarium).

Velella velella have showed up again, definitely earlier than usual, and now in enormous numbers.

“The sand was saturated with millions of tiny velella velella's near the Peter Iredale Thursday,” said Tiffany Boothe, with Seaside Aquarium.

She spotted an unusually large amount of the creatures this week, just before the weekend's big storms hit.

Above: a closeup of a Purple Sail from another incident (courtesy Seaside Aquarium).

They are well known by the name velella velella, but sometimes called By-the-Wind-Sailors or Purple Sails. While technically not a jellyfish, they are closely related to them, but even more closely to the Man-O-War – a kind of jellyfish that does sting prey and humans. At about the size of a silver dollar or two, the Purple Sails that end up on the Oregon coast do not sting. These little guys capture what they eat with tiny tentacles.

About February 19, an Oregon Coast Beach Connection reader discovered a sizable amount of them – often smaller than usual – at Face Rock at Bandon. This marks an atypically early showing of the Purples Sails, which normally don't start showing until April or even June, if they show at all.

The little creatures were found in thick numbers during many springs in the early 2000s', then seemed to disappear after 2007. In 2014, they made a small return, but in 2015 they essentially erupted all over the beaches of the coastline in one enormous inundation after another.

Velella velella present some problems at times after such mass strandings, especially if there's a run of nice weather afterwards. The little discos dry up, lose their color and begin to rot on the beaches, creating an unpleasant odor.

In April of 2006, this was so bad that at the time the Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce reported the number one question they’d been receiving from visitors was “what is that fishy smell?”

“Purple Sails have clear a ‘sail’ that helps them catch the wind,” Boothe said. “However, when the wind blows out of the Northwest, these little guys get stranded on the beach. They feed on fish eggs and small planktonic copepods.”

Consequently, it's unknown why they appear more in some years and less than others. For whatever reason, ocean conditions favor them in this area at times, and since they are simply blown along by the winds, westerly wind events will bring more of the populations in.

Boothe said they can be found in most oceans of the world, preferring warmer waters. They can reach sizes of four inches in length and three inches in width. Where to stay for this event - Where to eat - Map and Virtual Tour




Below: more incidents of Purple Sails from recent years:





 

More About Oregon Coast hotels, lodging.....

More About Oregon Coast Restaurants, Dining.....

 

A famous little family eatery where the seafood practically gets shuffled from the sea straight into your mouth. Soups and salads include many seafood specialties, including cioppino, chowders, crab Louie and cheese breads. Fish 'n' chips come w/ various fish. Seafood sandwiches with shrimp, tuna or crab, as well as burgers. Dinners like pan fried oysters, fillets of salmon or halibut, saut�ed scallops.
Oregon Coast event or adventure you can't miss
Pacific City, Oregon

 


 

LATEST Related Oregon Coast Articles

The Kooky and the Cool on Oregon Coast Right Now: Pryosomes, Ghost Forests
Orcas, gray whales, freaky tube-like creatures and ancient stumps. Science, kids, travel tips
Spring Break Kicks Off with Whale Week, Astronomy Parties Around Oregon, the ...
On the first Saturday of spring break, you can catch wonders from the deep and in the universe above. Lincoln City events, Yachats events, Oceanside events, Manzanita events, Cannon Beach events
N. Oregon Coast History with a 10K Run and a Hollywood Twist
A special 10k run this weekend and a talk on movies filmed here. Seaside events
Newport, Oregon Coast: Whales, Spring Break Fun Collide in Big Way
Newport is host to more whale watch vantage points than any other area, bundles of family-friendly attractions. Newport events
Some Oregon Coast Beaches Under Restrictions to Protect Threatened Plover
March 15 through September 15 is when a handful of Oregon coast beaches come under certain restrictions
Ghosts on the Coast? Seaside, Oregon's Paranormal Fest March 31
Curiosity seekers and wannabe Ghostbusters are encouraged to manifest in Seaside. Cannon Beach events
Spring Equinox Monday Has Trippy Astronomy for Oregon, the Coast
Spring will swoop down into Oregon and the coast on Monday, March 20
Hiking Event at Central Oregon Coast's Cape Perpetua; Forest Road Closure
March 18 is the date for a special event of hiking and history. Yachats events

Back to Oregon Coast

Contact Advertise on BeachConnection.net
All Content, unless otherwise attributed, copyright BeachConnection.net Unauthorized use or publication is not permitted