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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 December 2006, 11:47 GMT
Millions of sea creatures wash up
By-the-Wind Sailors on a beach in Wales
The creatures are normally found in the Azores
Millions of small dead jellyfish-like creatures have been washed ashore on South West beaches.

The velella velella, commonly known as By-the-wind Sailors, have been spotted this month on Devon beaches from Bantham to Exmouth and in Bournemouth.

Plymouth's National Marine Aquarium said billions of the blue creatures may have been washed up this year.

The creatures are native to the Azores and experts have asked if climate change is sending them further north.

The harmless 4in (10cm) creatures are also found in the western Atlantic and are relatives of the Portuguese Man-of-War.

Major invasion

They are washed ashore in groups most years particularly along the north Cornish coast.

The large finds were first reported from St Martins in the Scilly Islands in October, followed by Guernsey, the Welsh coast and north Devon.

At the end of November millions were found at Portwrinkle beach in south east Cornwall and north Wales.

There was a major invasion in 1981 and in 2004 they turned up in Dorset, south Devon, and the south coast of Cornwall and right up to Islay in the west of Scotland.

Their short tentacles catch very small fish and large plankton and they themselves are eaten by the Violet Sea Snails, which are seldom seen in Britain.


SEE ALSO
Jelly creatures go further north
28 Nov 06 |  North West Wales
Jelly creatures invade beaches
24 Sep 04 |  South East Wales
Expert disputes jellyfish claims
22 Jul 03 |  England
Oil and jellyfish close beaches
03 Jun 03 |  Cornwall

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