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Millions of jellyfish-like ceatures called velella velella take over U.S. west coast beaches

File photo

File photo

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Friday, August 1, 2014, 5:40 PM - Millions of velella velella, a jellyfish-like creature, have washed up on beaches along the U.S. west coast over the past month.

First-hand accounts say that beaches are "gleaming" with the creatures, which give off an unpleasant odour at times.

While not poisonous, the jellies possess a venom that can irritate the eyes and the mouth, prompting ocean experts to advise the public to avoid affected beaches.

It's not uncommon for velella velella clusters to wash up on coastlines, typically during the spring.

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Scientists aren't sure why they're arriving later than usual this year but they suspect it may have something to do with the unusual wind patterns recorded over the past few months.

Though often mistaken for jellyfish, each velella velella is actually made up of a colony of smaller creatures called hydrozoans that bond together, resembling a single organism.

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