Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like creatures wash up in New Zealand – Scale of die-off surprises Department of Conservation

Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like creatures have washed up on Greymouth beaches in New Zealand, surprising even the Department of Conservation with the scale.

The rotting mass blanketed an 18m by 8m area of the Blaketown aerodrome car park, with more scattered south along the high tide mark.

Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like Velella wash ashore dead on beaches in coastal Greymouth New Zealand
Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like Velella wash ashore dead on beaches in coastal Greymouth New Zealand. Greymouth Star

By last evening, they were giving off a strong smell as they lay in the sun.

DOC marine expert Don Neale said: “They’re quite often seen washed up on West Coast beaches and when there’s one there’s usually dozens, but I’ve never seen them drifted up this much (in their thousands) in one place before

Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like Velella wash ashore dead on beaches in coastal Greymouth New Zealand
Tens of thousands of jellyfish-like Velella wash ashore dead on beaches in coastal Greymouth New Zealand. Greymouth Star

As the sea starts to warm up in the spring, all the floating plankton starts to bloom and it’s not unusual to get a lot more things like this starting to wash up, as well as ‘red tides’ of plankton out at sea.

Just over a week ago, a large number washed up at Cable Bay, Nelson, and a few days later also at Farewell Spit.

valella, valella jellyfish
A valella alive. Wikimedia

These jellyfish-like creatures get their name from the small erect ‘sail’ on their backs, which allows propulsion by the wind.

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