Sailing by the Wind
Stella M. Turk MBE
Velella velella the By-the-Wind Sailor
This sailor has neither motor nor oars
But only a keel, pointing left or right
And set diagonally at just the right height
To catch every breeze with the greatest of ease
Enabling it to abound in all warm-water seas.
It has polyps for breeding and polyps for feeding
And low-powered polyps that it is needing
To sting tiny prey that it finds in its way.
Drifting thither with wind, and hither with tide
Oft to be ship-wrecked on shores far and wide
Where it may occur in millions on millions.
Its prey and its predators also drift freely forming part of the great ‘Blue-water Community’.Velella velella is blue in colour and its predators include the violet sea-snails Janthina of which there are several species world-wide, whilst there is only one species of Velella.
It can reach a maximum of 10 cm but is usually much smaller. Indeed specimens a few millimetres long have been found in recent years, suggesting that warming waters are allowing it to breed in more northerly latitudes than formerly. Note that this open-ocean community often includes the Portuguese Man-of-War, Physalia, (sometimes called ‘the Bluebottle’) to which Velella is more closely related than it is to jellyfish.
Stella M Turk MBE
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