A familiar hydrozoan with a beautiful name

June 6th, 2013

Velella_velella_060613_Sicily_585SCIACCA, SICILY, ITALY–Far too late today for more than a short post. For the first time I met in real life an animal I speak about in my Invertebrate Paleontology course: the colonial hydrozoan Velella velella. We found thousands of them on Marjate Beach on the south coast of Sicily (see below). These organisms are commonly known as By-The-Wind Sailors, and they are found throughout the world’s oceans. They are characterized by a thin vertical sail over a shelf of downward-directed polyps. The sail scoots them along very effectively across the sea surface, but once they reach a lee coast they are helplessly stranded on the beach. They are striking in their tragedy as the thin purple tissues wilt in the sunlight as if they were flowers.

Velella_vella_strew_060613More posts from this very interesting day after I get some sleep!

2 Responses to “A familiar hydrozoan with a beautiful name”

  1. Stephanie Jarvison 06 Jun 2013 at 9:49 pm


  2. […] page. There is also a page on my favorite hydrozoan, the delightfully-named Velella velella. (I saw these gorgeous animals during my visit to Sicily this summer.) Here is a great jellyfish video from the Monterey Bay […]

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