Monday, November 8, 2010

By-The-Wind-Sailors stranded

The interesting thing about this article from San Diego Community News Group - Tidelines Sailors stranded at La Jolla Shores (article and photo by Judith Garfield) is that these remarkable little mariners,  By-The-Wind-Sailors or  Velella velella, also find themselves wrecked on Australian shores as well as many coastlines around the Pacific.

"Scientists believe a mix of both right- and left-handed sailors are born in the central Pacific, then prevailing winds sort the mirror-imaged groups onto opposite sides of the ocean. It’s a good hedge against losing entire populations from blowing ashore, at least not by moderate winds. Winds in the northern hemisphere cycle clockwise, so the sails are typically right-handed. However, if prolonged southerlies or westerlies blow, the sailors may be driven thousands of miles to beach on our coast."

Velella velella are ocean surface communities that feed on plankton and are ocean drifters themselves. To read more about these small jellied hydrozoans click here

If these small predators eat plankton are they taking up microplastics? A recent news article in Hawiian News Now highlights concern about plastics taking up more space than plankton in part of the ocean. Find full article here
Photo from Hawaiian News Now

AUSMEPA is also very concerned about reducing plastic pollution and its effect on marine life. See media release here and they are doing their part to help by providing a free online complete unit plan for teachers wanting to introduce the subject into the classroom here at

Everyone can help by spreading the word.

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