Take a close look at today's photograph - aren't the things in it the most beautiful blue colour?
The hotel we stayed in on Elba had its own private beach down to the Mediterranean. One afternoon we wandered down. It was a warm, sunny day but there was a stiffish wind blowing off the sea.
Along the shore line was a thick rim of navy blue which on close inspection was these tiny creatures. They were washed up onto the shingle and appeared to be dead. One brave soul with us decided to pick one up- it was hard and leathery and its 'innards' were clearly visible.
But what was it? The staff in the hotel said it was algae and that it appeared every year at about this time. Algae? With innards? I took a photograph.
Now I don't know whether you know Stuart Dunlop's blog - Donegal Wild Life - but I knew he was the man to ask. Yesterday I e mailed him the photograph and - as I expected - I got a full report on them almost by return. So here it is.
"They are By-the-wind Sailors - velella velella. Each individual specimen is actually a highly-organised colony rather then an individual creature, so they are not true jellyfish (which are single-cell organisms) - they are related to The Portuguese Man o'war, but not dangerous to humans".
Thank you for that Stuart. If you are interested in wildlife then I urge you to pop over and read his fascinating reports.
Have a nice day.