Eww, what's that smell?
April 11, 2002 2:12 PM   Subscribe

Eww, what's that smell? It's kind of sad, really, a poor little creature, velella, also known as "by-the-wind sailor" that spends its life cruising the wavetops, is unceremoniously stranded all along the west coast beaches, due to a shift in the spring winds. It happens in my town, Dillon Beach, every couple of years but they're really thick this year.
posted by Lynsey (18 comments total)
argh. that second link goes to a "domain for sale" page which sprouts a bazillion popups and then tries to install the Gator plugin on me. make it stop!!
posted by Sapphireblue at 2:25 PM on April 11, 2002

2nd link worked fine for me.
Could this plague of velellas be associated with the El Nino? (Which, incidentally, means: The Nino. [props to Chris Farley, RIP])
posted by gnz2001 at 2:31 PM on April 11, 2002

I'm south of you (Santa Cruz) and they were pretty thick around here about a week ago. This year is the first year I've noticed them in about a decade of hanging out in the ocean. Another odd thing I noticed this year is that I've seen more dolphin pods earlier in the year than normal. Maybe this is a result of the tune up for El Nino?

BTW, I think the name is velella velella rather than velella. They apparently are apparently born with one of two different sail orientations. One type sails one way, the other the opposite direction. I'd love to learn what language the name comes from.
posted by rdr at 2:37 PM on April 11, 2002

Sapphire: this happens to me too. Except I get taken to an awful site "lop.com" which just takes over. I think it's some evil plant that redirects 404s to commercial sites. I can't get rid of it. :(
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:52 PM on April 11, 2002

OMG!These were all over the beach at Pt. Reyes last week, I took tons of pictures, and since then I've been desperately trying to discover what they are. (even on filepile, which I shant link to) Thanks Lynsey!
posted by emptyage at 3:07 PM on April 11, 2002

Uh-oh. Lop is some nasty scumware that drops all kinds of crap into your PC. You didn't click OK on any popups, did you Miguel? Do a google search to see what these guys are up to and how to remove their cruft from your machine.
posted by nikzhowz at 3:11 PM on April 11, 2002

BTW: that second link worked fine for me.
posted by emptyage at 3:17 PM on April 11, 2002

In Opera and Mozilla you can refuse pop-up windows. I just have to enable it for blogs that have the pop-up comment windows. When I forget to turn it back off though, it reminds me of when I had to live with all the pop-ups sites have these days. Curse those stinkin' ads.
posted by jaden at 5:33 PM on April 11, 2002

Hey, thanks a million nikzhowz and jaden - it's been making my life hell for a month now. Links here on MeFi everyone else can get to are almost instantly nixed and redirected to their site. I've made a fool of myself commenting that links are broken when they clearly aren't. They even have an ugly thing sitting on my desktop.

So I'm off to Google, full of hope.

Sorry everyone for being so off-topic!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:50 PM on April 11, 2002

D'oh. Thanks to your link, nikzhowz, it took about one second. Free at last. Here it is in case anyone else is suffering:

Subject: how to get rid of lop.com

you can download the uninstaller at this address:

And I can now see Lynsey's second link. :) Yes, these poor creatures are scattered all over the beaches in Portugal. I stupidly thought they were seaweed. I shall plop them back in the ocean, from now on. Cheers!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:58 PM on April 11, 2002

I just love the name "by-the-wind-sailors". It's so poetic.

I was interested to note that their hard, plastic-like discs are made from chitin, which is the basis of Chitosol and its ilk, those fat-absorbing diet pills that we see on infommercials so often here in the states. I don't usually think of jellyfish as having shells.
posted by iconomy at 8:21 PM on April 11, 2002

Sorry about the pop-ups, Miguel & Sapphire. Either Pop-Up Killer or using Netscape as my browser keeps me from seeing them - didn't know about them. rdr, Velella velella is actually correct, but most people have a hard time just saying it once :) My husband just calls 'em jellyfish.
posted by Lynsey at 9:04 PM on April 11, 2002

"Velella" probably comes from Latin "velum", a sail. I think "ella" is a diminutive.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:22 PM on April 11, 2002

Right both times, i_am_joe's_spleen. The Portuguese Man of War, an often deadly so-called jellyfish(it's actually a colony of mean meat-poisoning machines)which I hope Lynsey's husband never confuses with poor old harmless Vellela vellela, is called Caravela Portuguesa by us Portuguese. These were the ships we sailed on in the 15th and 16th century to explore our little planet. "Vela" is our word for "sail". Come to think of it, it still doesn't make any sense, does it?

[Lynsey - the pop-ups on your link are blameless. My problem was a months-old Trojan Horse of an implanted scum-site]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:41 PM on April 11, 2002

We get them on the Atlantic coast of Florida, especially with the onshore winds of winter and spring. They're best when served with a very light chardonnay.
posted by groundhog at 7:45 AM on April 12, 2002

Thanks for clearing up the mystery. These were all over the beach and in the tide pools near Big Sur and Point Lobos last week. This and that big black blob hanging out in the Gulf of Mexico makes you wonder if everything is copasetic in our oceans...
posted by mariko at 7:53 AM on April 12, 2002

huh... weird... now the second link works fine for me. (I didn't have lop.com on my machine to uninstall, it just all of a sudden works now.) Anyway, sorry to bother.
posted by Sapphireblue at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2002

I saw them at the beach today, just south of Monterey California. The waters were clear all day until early evening when the wind changed, and in minutes thousands of the little things were washing up on the sand.
posted by Nothing at 10:06 PM on April 14, 2002

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