The above photo of a By-the-Wind Sailor jellyfish was taken on Cape Canaveral, Florida beach the last weekend in March 2007. There were hundreds of them on the beach, blown ashore by the strong easterly winds. This jellyfish has a purple "raft" and a translucent flexible sail. The sail catches the wind and propels them like a sailboat.
Below are two excellent photos provided by Phil Jones, taken on a beach in Ireland. One is a side view of the jellyfish showing the clear sail. The one below it shows the complex community of zooids on the underside of this chondrophore.
The late Kathy Katz, in her excellent book "The Nature of Florida's Beaches" says the following about the By-the-Wind Sailor:
"About half of them are 'left handed'...their sails are set opposite to the other half...so that during violent storms, half will be carried to shore to provide food for beach creatures while the other half will survive to continue drifting." Kathy Katz, The Nature of Florida's Beaches. I highly recommend this book if you love beachcombing in Florida.
Below is a photo of a Velella velella next to someone's foot, to give you an idea of the size of the creature.
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