'By-The-Wind-Sailors' wash up on PBC beaches

Posted at 7:21 PM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-01 07:44:35-04

The beaches of Palm Beach County taking on a shade of purple Thursday as thousands of tiny sea creatures washed ashore. 

Many of you sent in your pictures to NewsChannel 5.
They’re small, they're pretty, and as researchers told us—they can certainly pack a punch. 
The creatures are known as Velella - also called 'by-the-wind-sailors'.
Boca Raton Park rangers tell us strong Southeast winds brought thousands of them to the beach. 
Rangers tell us these creatures are related to the Portuguese Man-O-War, and while the sting is less painful, it can still hurt. 
The purplish-blue creatures presenting a giant purple barrier of sorts for some beachgoers. 
"You can see, we're staying up here, not going close to the water," says Melissa Sullivan, who was visiting the beach with her family. 
As a longtime Delray resident, she says she's never seen anything like it.
Her son Paul Phillips, vacationing from Cleveland, was even more blown away. 
This is unbelievable, I took about a thousand pictures," he says. "I didn't know what they were."
It forced his family to adjust a little. 
"They wanted to play in the ocean, but now they are way up on the beach afraid the creatures are going to get them."
He was determined not to let this purple nuisance ruin his vacation. 
"I came all the way from Cleveland," Phillips says. "Snow, horrific grey weather. We're going to hang on the beach and catch some rays." 
Researchers tell us the creatures should naturally wash away with the waves.

If you're heading out to the beaches between Gulfstream Park and Boca Inlet Park, rangers urge you to watch where you step.