I love going to the beach after a storm has passed. The sky clears out, and I can see up and down the coastline. This was a small storm, but just enough of one to be able to clearly see Catalina Island afterwards.
I was missing the usual dolphins and seals during my visit, but was pleasantly surprised by these rare by-the-wind sailors (see photos below) that I found in amongst all the seaweed on the sand. People mistake by-the-wind sailors for Portuguese man o’wars, but the by-the-wind sailors do not have large enough nematocysts to sting humans, whereas I would really avoid touching the man o’wars, even ones washed ashore. (Man o’wars have long strands of nematocysts that can sting, possibly even after being washed up.) Regardless, I was not taking any chances and didn’t touch the by-the-wind sailors, either.
Last time there were any by-the-wind sailors on the beach, there were hundreds of them grouped together. They’re typically in a large colony out in the open ocean. These little hydrozoans must have been blown by the wind onto the beach during the storm.
I can’t wait to see what treasures I find at the beach on my next visit!