Gone in one gulp! The tiny “by-the-wind-sailors” that have been appearing on area beaches also happen to be a favorite snack of the enormous ocean sunfish (Mola mola), which can grow to be the size of a small car! (photo by Jodi Frediani)

By-the-wind sailors (Velella velella) are actually hydroid polyps—jelly-like invertebrates.The “sail” helps propel the animal on its journey across the ocean. In late spring and early autumn, hundreds of thousands of these drifting sailors wash up on the beaches of Northern California. 

The velella stays on the surface of the open ocean for most of its life. To remain buoyant in the ocean, it has a series of sealed air chambers in its float. They travel in groups of thousands, and capture small fish with short tentacles that have stinging cells dangling underwater. (Although their sting is strong enough to stun a tiny animal, a human being would barely feel it.)

Learn more about the ocean sunfish


Notes

  1. snail2112fly reblogged this from snail2112fly
  2. kenta-rin reblogged this from montereybayaquarium
  3. fizzie-izzie reblogged this from montereybayaquarium
  4. tenescure reblogged this from montereybayaquarium
  5. fyeahmolamola reblogged this from montereybayaquarium
  6. cognitivethinkers reblogged this from vandawn71
  7. duckubus reblogged this from underhuntressmoon
  8. gracenotenotation reblogged this from montereybayaquarium and added:
    Mola mola are the sloths of the ocean.
  9. leycort reblogged this from ovarytissue
  10. ovarytissue reblogged this from exozoology
  11. exozoology reblogged this from eduardo-
  12. sharkssss reblogged this from theoceanisourhome
  13. like-a-dot reblogged this from eduardo-
  14. eduardo- reblogged this from ceyren
  15. ceyren reblogged this from rhamphotheca
  16. spoopyskag reblogged this from rhamphotheca
  17. hazzial reblogged this from dilfgod
  18. ymmvor reblogged this from rhamphotheca
  19. blackhat0061 reblogged this from notamorningbird
  20. notamorningbird reblogged this from brilleg
  21. brilleg reblogged this from ferrrox
  22. nineshadow reblogged this from ferrrox
  23. tgithighhighs reblogged this from welcometoinnsmouth
  24. welcometoinnsmouth reblogged this from ferrrox
  25. ferrrox reblogged this from ravonettes
  26. pumpernickelandcoal reblogged this from zedstream
  27. beautiful-wilderness reblogged this from izzy-the-fish-girl
  28. selkie-seranade reblogged this from merslayed

About me

The Monterey Bay Aquarium, perched on the edge of a world-famous coastline, is your window to the wonders of the ocean. It’s located on historic Cannery Row in Monterey and is open daily except Christmas Day.

For more information about our animals and exhibits, and to view our live web cams, please visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.

Hours of operation vary by season. Daily schedules and tickets are available on our website or by calling
(831) 648-4800.