WhatsNewDay
Find the latest breaking news and information on the top stories, science, business, entertainment, politics, and more.

Mystery over colourful by-the-wind-sailor washed up on Eagles Nest Beach in Victoria

Mystery about the colorful creature with a small fin found on an Australian beach: ‘I would not have seen one 30 years ago’

  • Colorful sea creatures discovered on a Victorian beach
  • They were found to be beautiful sailors of the wind.
  • Its characteristic sail on its back gives it its name

A colorful sea creature caused a stir after several of them were found scattered among the rocks at a popular tourist spot.

A beachgoer snapped a photo of the unusual disc-shaped marine animal at Eagles Nest Beach on Victoria’s south coast.

It was found to be a wind sailor, a marine animal commonly mistaken for a blue bottle, and a local expert claimed it was rare to see one 20 to 30 years ago.

The warmer waters around Australia since then could be one reason the animal is more prevalent in the area.

The photo showed the bright blue and white round creature perched on a rock with its semicircular fin protruding from the middle of its body.

A beachgoer took photos of the unusual disc-shaped marine animal at Eagles Nest Beach on Victoria’s south coast and posted them online.

'20 or 30 years ago, it would probably have been rare to see them.  Today it certainly is not,

’20 or 30 years ago, it would probably have been rare to see them. Today it certainly is not,” said professor of toxicology Jamie Seymour.

‘Can someone tell me what this is? Lots of them at Eagles Nest Beach,” the curious man wrote on social media.

Most commentators were quick to call the little creature blue bottle, but in the end it was identified as another marine animal that lives on the ocean’s surface.

Toxicology Professor Jamie Seymour said the creatures, also known as velellas or sea rafts, have been seen more frequently off the Victorian coast in recent years.

’20 or 30 years ago, it would probably have been rare to see them. Today it certainly isn’t,” said Professor Seymour Yahoo News Australia.

He said possibly thousands of people have been bitten by them every year in Sydney alone.

But he added that their bites are not as bad as those of a blowfly, and only cause mild pain at the site of the wound.

Blowfly bites create intense pain that usually subsides after an hour or two, leaving whip-like welts on a bather.

Both sea creatures tend to congregate close to each other as they are attracted to warmer waters and have similar diets, Professor Seymour said.

Professor Jamie Seymour said bites from a velella or wind sailor are not as bad as those from a blowfly and only cause mild pain at the site of the bite.

Professor Jamie Seymour said bites from a velella or wind sailor are not as bad as those from a blowfly and only cause mild pain at the site of the bite.

The fins guide the animal through the waters in whichever direction the wind blows, improving the survival of the species (pictured, Eagles Nest Beach in Victoria, where the wind sailors were found)

The fins guide the animal through the waters in whichever direction the wind blows, improving the survival of the species (pictured, Eagles Nest Beach in Victoria, where the wind sailors were found)

Windsailers are named for their semicircular fins that grow to the right or left.

The fins guide the animal through the water in whichever direction the wind blows, improving the survival of the species.

‘Some of the population will go to the left, the rest will go to the right. If the winds are blowing to push everyone onto the beach, half will go offshore and half will go inland,” Professor Seymour said.

The transparent creatures can be up to 10 cm long, but are usually smaller.

sailors by the wind

Windsailing sailors have a transparent “sail” raised above a blue oval disk that has concentric circles on it.

The rest of the body below is dark blue with short tentacles hanging from the disc.

The unusual creatures float near the ocean’s surface with their tentacles dangling below the water.

Its movement is driven by the wind that hits the sail.

Each batch of pups has some animals sailed to the right and others sailed to the left.

This ensures that they are not all blown in one direction at the same time.

They are found in open water, but can float close to shore due to tides and winds.

The sail allows the organism to catch the wind and travel on ocean currents, using its stinging tentacles to hunt young fish and other small animals as it travels.

They are at the mercy of the winds and are therefore usually found blown away by the hundreds, or sometimes even thousands, after stormy winter weather.

Marine animals are found all over the world, including in Australian waters.

Source: Museums Victoria, Wildlife Trusts