Stormy weather brings invertebrates ashore
Large numbers of a jellyfish-like marine animal have washed up on Bermuda's beaches in the last few days.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the numbers of Velella velella had been boosted by stormy weather at sea over the past month. A spokeswoman for the department said the creatures had been mistaken for Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish.
She added: “They are abundant now because the ocean around us is experiencing its spring bloom. The stormy weather of the past month has brought up nutrients from the deep water, which stimulates the growth of plankton.
“Consequently, the V. velella benefit from having more food and begin to reproduce at a fast rate at this time of year. High winds can blow the V. velella inshore.”
The spokeswoman said: “We can expect the small by-the-wind sailors to stick around for a while and we should also see the number of Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish increase over the next month or two, all dependent on the wind and its prevailing direction.”
V. velella are highly adapted to survive well by drifting around the open ocean. They catch prey on the surface with their short tentacles.
The are said to be largely “benign” to humans, although people may respond in different ways to contact with their toxin. People are advised to avoid touching their face or eyes after handling V. velella. An itch may develop on parts of the skin that have been exposed to V. velella nematocysts — or stingers on their tentacles.