Sunday, October 22, 2017

by-the-wind sailors at Himatangi Beach

During the week I had read about the jellyfish 'invasion' on the south coast in Wellington, but I wasn't expecting to see zillions of them at Himatangi Beach this morning. Lying everywhere were these stranded jellyfish of a kind I hadn't seen before, though every so often there was a large bluebottle in their midst, complete with stinging tentacles. For once, I left my sandals on for the whole beach walk.

Back home I found an article in the Taranaki Daily News that described them up in New Plymouth. Apparently they are smelly, but as I have a cold still, I couldn't smell them!
It was a very windy day at the beach, and the first stretch of the walk down to the water was harder than usual as so much dry moving sand had been banked up on the usual 'road' down to the water. Heaps of driftwood had been blown back up the stream to where they had installed posts to stop it going any further. A couple of hardy whitebaiters were installed by the mouth of the stream.
 There were a few large blue jellyfish on the beach,

but mostly it was these smaller creatures that had become detritus at the high tide mark. Their distribution was variable- it seemed to depend on how the waves washed in.
There were mainly jellyfish of the by-the-wind sailors or velella kind, that don't sting, and there was also a small amount of seaweed on the beach. Here is a piece of kelp, not so commonly washed up on this beach.
 In some places by the high tide mark they were absolutely prolific- and I found it hard to select a driftwood log to sit on for a wee rest before I walked back...
 Sometimes seaweed trapped jellyfish within its branches. 
As I sat on a large log high up the beach, an old man started picking his way over the sand dunes, then down onto the beach, using his two walking sticks. I guess he lives nearby and comes down here everyday.
As I walked back along the beach, the tide was coming in quite quickly. The gap between the jellyfish borne on the waves, and the jellyfish left lying high up the beach by the last full-tide, was growing quite narrow.
This beach is always different- affected by the wind or other weather in some way.  I wonder how it will look next time?

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