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n.1.(Zool.) Any species of oceanic Siphonophora belonging to the genus Velella.
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By-the-Wind Sailor) in pint-sized plastic sails drifts
Which is why their common name is the delightful "By-The-Wind Sailor", and also why, since they are obviously at the weather's mercy, they sometimes end up shorebound, and stranded, en masse.
By-the-wind sailor: Several reports from the south-west of England in January, then a few in July.
Also known as 'by-the-wind sailors', the cricket-ball-sized creatures are mistaken for their deadly cousins, the Portuguese Man o' War, but the two are only distantly related.
The scientists also collected jellyfish called by-the-wind sailors (Velella velella).
David Waines of the Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay, Cornwall, which identified the creatures, said: "If prevailing winds change direction, by-the-wind sailors may wash up on beaches in great numbers."
Technically, they're velella velellas, more commonly known as by-the-wind sailors, a relative of the Portuguese man-of-war.