Strange disc-shaped ‘by-the-wind-sailor’ sea creatures wash up on UK coast

Mysterious disc-like sea creatures have been found washed up on the Welsh coast, puzzling beachgoers.

Described as 'By-the-wind-sailor' creatures, these mysterious animals were spotted all along the sands of Horton Beach, which is located in Port Eynon Bay on the south coast of the Gower Peninsula.

Very is little is known about these creatures. and they are often spotted between September and March and are mostly found floating on the surface of the warmer waters of the world's oceans, according to The Wildlife Trusts.

Also known as Velella, these creatures are usually less than seven centimetres long, and may even give off a mild sting when they are touched.

They are best identified by their deep bluey purple oval disc, known as a float. A thin, semi-circular fin attaches diagonally across the top of the float and tiny short tentacles hang down from the float into the water below, according to Wales Online.

Its characteristic sail gives the animal its name, 'by-the-wind-sailor'. The sail allows the organism to catch the wind and travel on ocean currents, using its stinging tentacles to prey on young fish and other small animals while it travels.

They are at the mercy of the winds and so are usually found washed up in their hundreds, or sometimes even thousands, after stormy winter weather.

Dog walker Barry Gill, who spotted the creatures, said: "There were hundreds of them both in the low tide water and on the beach. Really beautiful. I was worried about my dogs showing interest and getting stung – I thought they were man o' wars – but they didn’t and weren’t."

Gina Gavigan, of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, said: "By-the-wind-sailors are truly awesome. They are similar to the Portuguese man o war as they are made up of a colony of tiny individual animals, however they are not true jellyfish! They are in fact known as a colonial hydroid.

"The sail allows the organism to catch the wind and travel on ocean currents, using its stinging tentacles to prey on young fish and other small animals while it travels.

"They are at the mercy of the winds and so are usually found washed up in their hundreds after stormy autumn and winter weather. If you spot one then remember to look but don’t touch as they may give a mild sting."

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