The purple sailor jellyfish has a sail fin that usually keeps it away from land
But westerly winds have overpowered them by the droves onto Pacific beaches
Otherworldly goo lumps in blue and purple speckled beaches in Oregon and Washington states this week, after strong wind got caught in their sails.
Millions of jellyfish are washing up on shore, leaving beachgoers watching their steps. Except for at least one child, who couldn’t resist putting a shoe on them.
“They were really goopy and mushy and they were weird to step on,” Brooke Brandweide of Seattle told CNN affiliate KOMO.
These bluish, purple jellyfish, called Velella velella, sometimes invade in spring, though their body design usually keeps them out of sight, by allowing them to sail away from shore.
“They have a sail fin that has a slight bend to it and that helps them curve again from the beach and stay off the beaches,” said Steve Green with the Coastal Interpretive Center in Ocean Shores, Washington.
But once the westerly wind kicks up, they are on a collision course with land.
“These guys have no chance once they start spinning around in circles,” Green said.
Though all jellyfish have stinging cells, the so-called “purple sailor” is harmless to humans. But you should not rub your eyes or put a finger in your mouth after handling a jellyfish, according to a description of Velella velella on the Oregon State website.
You should also avoid walking barefoot through freshly beached jellyfish.
CNN’s Jackie Castillo contributed to this report.