‘By-the-Wind Sailor’ (Velella velella)

We took a wee walk on Tramore Beach on the 27th December to try to shift some of the Xmas turkey; fortunately it was a breathtakingly beautiful day.

Coming down through the foredunes, we heard the unmistakable ‘churrr’ of Choughs.

Out at the water’s edge, the resident flock of Sanderling ran in and out with the waves; I would love to know what tiny edible morsels they manage to spot in the receding waves.  There were a few Ringed Plovers and Oystercatchers along the shoreline too.

The main topic of interest was the thousands of ‘By-the-Wind Sailors’ (Velella velella) that were washed up on the beach. These little creatures are related to jellyfish, anemones and hydriods. They live on the surface of the open ocean, with a little protruding sail that catches the wind; when the wind blows they are propelled along by the breezes.

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By-the-Wind-Sailor. Its blue body sits in the ocean surface with its tiny tentacles dangling down into the water and catch planktonic prey. Its short glassy sail, protruding above the water, catches the wind and propels the animal along.

By-the-Wind Sailors are not dangerous to humans but they can sting and capture small prey with their tentacles. They also harbour algal symbionts within their tissues, giving mature specimens and greenish or even brown tint.

On the way home, we spotted some Whooper Swans on Kiltoorish Lough.

Another fulfilling outing!

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