Stench from sea crea­tures re­pul­sive

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - JOEL MAXWELL

Waves of elec­tric blue jel­ly­fish­like crea­tures that washed up on west coast beaches, de­light­ing beach­go­ers, have hit their ex­piry date.

The Ka¯piti Coast, north of Wellington, is sim­mer­ing un­der a pu­trid cloud as tens of thou­sands of velella start to rot.

On Mon­day, Ka¯piti res­i­dent Ali­son Bolt said she drove to a car park near the beach that morn­ing to take her ger­man shep­herd Buffy for a walk.

‘‘I took one whiff out the car door and it just about made me want to throw up...we went to the river in­stead,’’ she said.

Stuff has re­ported the translu­cent blue velella were wash­ing up on beaches around Wellington, Ka¯piti and Taranaki for the past few days.

The town­ship of Waikanae Beach, pop­u­la­tion 3048, was in­un­dated with the crea­tures that drift on oceans, driven by the wind.

Bolt first no­ticed the velella had washed up sev­eral days ago, ‘‘I thought ‘look, pretty blue’.’’

By Mon­day, Waikanae Beach Four Square owner Quoc Tran said the smell was ‘‘very bad’’ and wafted in his doors when he opened them.

‘‘The cus­tomers are mad about it, but what can I do, re­ally? There’s noth­ing I can do...you can’t eat food with a smell like this.’’

He said the crea­tures seemed to wash up an­nu­ally, but this year the smell was worse.

The velella might have washed away more quickly last year, Tran said.

A Ka¯piti woman, who did not wish to be named, said she drove to Waikanae Beach on Sun­day and it ‘‘reeked’’.

‘‘Driv­ing around the beach yes­ter­day, the smell was ap­palling...it smelled like rot­ten fish. It’s the coast of stench.’’

She said the odour stretched back sev­eral streets from the beach.

So­cial me­dia com­ments have men­tioned smells pen­e­trat­ing in­land from taki Beach to the north, and Para­pa­raumu Beach to the south.

WHAT ARE VELELLA?

Ac­cord­ing to Live­science.com, the crea­tures are not true jel­ly­fish, but are re­lated to them. They float on the ocean sur­face and are blown by the wind. ‘‘A velella’s elec­tric-blue body hangs down into the­wa­ter, with sting­ing ten­ta­cles that cap­ture small prey such as tiny shrimp and plank­ton.’’ The blue colour pro­tects them from the sun’s ul­tra­vi­o­let ra­di­a­tion. ‘‘In the ocean, float­ing snails, sea slugs and sun­fish will gob­ble up the gelati­nous crea­tures for meals. ‘‘Al­though velella tox­ins are harm­less to hu­mans, it’s not a good idea to han­dle the jelly crea­tures and then touch your eyes or­mouth. The velella neu­ro­toxin might cause itch­ing.’’ O¯

PAUL SPENCE/SUP­PLIED

Velella washed up at Pukerua Bay. Top right, velella afloat off the coast.

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