By-the-wind-sailor

IMG_6629A short walk on a Tuesday afternoon on Holywell Beach west of Newquay: dark, bleak, with a bit of rain and a lot of wind. The upside was that we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. Holywell is named after a well in a cave (see here), and I was quite curious to see it. Unfortunately, although we had a look in some smaller crevices, we seemed to have missed the main cave…Ah well, a good excuse to go back some time.IMG_6635No rock pools here, but there was some good beach combing to do with this stormy sea. For the first time I found the By-the-wind-sailor Velella velella, a Siphonophoran: a colony of specialized polyps, with short tentacles underneath and a little sail on top. They are related to the Portuguese Man-of-War. These organisms live on the open ocean, but can be blown onto shores in storms (mass stranding are common on the West Coast of the USA):IMG_6668IMG_6672The pollution of our seas with plastics is a big problem and becomes very apparent when surveying the strandline. Depressing stuff:IMG_6698

Finally, some washed up crates with a Common goose barnacle Lepas anatifera attached:IMG_6705IMG_6703

2 thoughts on “By-the-wind-sailor

  1. This is my local beach and although exposed it is not bad for rockpooling! Definately come back sometime and check out the Holy well its beautiful!
    I found a fair few by the wind sailors there myself over the last few days – I remember a mass stranding in Cornwall in 2003 (i think it was ) when every beach from st Ives to Padstow had huge snow drift like piles of Velella at the top of the beach – amazing to witness!! (also pretty smelly) Matt

  2. Pingback: Lucky Rockpooling trip with small and large surprises | Irish Rockpool Aquarium Adventures

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