Strange blue jellyfish-like creatures wash ashore the Oregon coast

The strange creatures are formally known as Velella velella —  tiny gelatinous creatures dubbed a "blue tide" at beaches along the coastline.

jellyfish-like creatures wash ashore5 / 15 Bluish Velella velella sea creatures have washed up by the thousands on Oregon beaches in recent days, including at Seaside and near Fort Stevens. (Photo by Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium)

Well there’s something you don’t see every day on the Oregon coast, and damn are they pretty. They kinda remind you off jellyfish, but very blue obviously. For several weeks now they have been washing ashore, and word has it we will see more this spring on the Oregon coast.

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Photo by Jon Kraft

Researchers originally classified these creatures as jelly, but have since recognized them as a unique species of hydrozoan, which is a class of predatory salt water animals. As they drift across the surface of the ocean, these by-the-wind sailors feed on plankton, stinging them with barb-tipped cells inside their tentacles. Their triangular sails help allow them to travel as they drift.

blue tide oregon
Photo by Tiffany Boothe / Seaside Aquarium

While word has it their venom can’t hurt you, the staff at the Oregon Coast Aquarium don’t suggest pushing your luck. First we have these funny little red crabs last month, and now this! Anyone had a chance to see these in person yet? Let us know in the comments.

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If you want to have a good time cleaning up the beach, join us for the Oregon Coast Clean Up with Patagonia & Ocean Blue Project on Sunday, April 23, 2017 – 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

Everyone who joins in the fun is going to be part of making the world’s 1st recycled shampoo bottle with P&G’s Head & Shoulders. Together with your help, and the support of all the great Oregon-Minded volunteers, sponsors, and NGOs, we can make the global impact required to keep our oceans blue.

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Guest Author

  • Janie Edwards

    I’ve seen these several times over the years. This may be the MOST I’ve ever seen, though!

  • Sara McCall Gibson

    They’re called manawars. And yes they do sting! They have them in florida where I’m from!

    • Shannon Nightingale Shierk

      They are not manawars

    • rkz

      They do look somewhat like Portuguese Men of War, but not quite. We used to see those quite a bit in Florida when I was a kid. And you don’t want to touch those, even if they’re dead.

    • Aric Fisher

      These are not man-o-wars… We called theme blue sails jellies, their common name is velella… This is not that rare of an event, and they’re not really harmful, just a big mess all over.

  • Kerry Hall

    In Santa Cruz many years ago there was a wave of dead jellyfish which washed ashore by the thousands. Although these are very pretty it does suggest a change in the ocean, pollution or an increase in temperature. Beautiful but disturbing. I live on the Oregon coast and this wave makes me very sad

  • Brenna Summers

    Just saw tons and tons of them a week ago. And the tiniest one’s ever too. I have touched them lol they’re pretty I was fine it was also a super small one. My husband and I are more curious as to why they are showing up?

  • Melissa Blanchard

    You might not want to depend so highly on spell check. It really doesn’t work too well. “They kinda remind you off jellyfish”. Change to “They kinda remind you of jellyfish”.

  • Norbert Neel

    The Oregon Coast has had a number of dead zones where there is not enough oxygen to support life. Maybe they drifted into something like that. The oceans are changing, we know that.

  • Aric Fisher

    These things have washed up on the beaches regularly all my life. Nothing new to be seen here, just the ravings of a tourist-minded individual…