Thousands of jellyfish lookalikes wash up on Channel Islands' beaches following strong winds

Picture of jellyfish-like creatures which have been washing up in Guernsey and Alderney.
Thousands of velella velella have been spotted on beaches in Guernsey and Alderney. Credit: ITV Channel

Thousands of unusual-looking creatures have been washing up on beaches in the Channel Islands following the recent strong winds.

Measuring up to 10cm long, they have been spotted on Guernsey's west coast and parts of Alderney.

Despite their strong similarities to jellyfish, they are actually velella velella.

What are velella velella?

They are 'colonial hydriods' which means they are made up of a number of tiny animals and use their tentacles to prey on young fish and other smaller creatures.

Velella velella are often called 'By-the-wind-sailors' owing to an attachment they have which resembles a sail and determines which direction they head in.

Are they dangerous?

Despite being mistaken for jellyfish, velella velella do not have the ability to deliver strong stings to humans.

While they are largely harmless, the public is urged to avoid touching the creatures as handling them can cause skin irritation.

Where do velella velella come from?

It is unusual to see velella velella in British waters as they prefer warmer seas, although not unheard of as thousands previously washed up on beaches in Cornwall.

The creatures enjoy tropical climates but are at the mercy of currents and gales as their 'by-the-wind-sailors' name suggests.

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