LOCATION : SHORT SANDS BEACH, OREGON
MATERIALS : VELELLA VELELLA
Velella velella are carnivorous creatures that float on the ocean and their transparent sails carry them from place to place in search of food such as plankton. Velella are organisms that are known as pleuston because of their dual existence in and out of the water.
There aerofoils are diagonal across the top of the float and carry them at a 45 degree angle to the prevailing winds. The shifting wind currents ultimately dictate their journey across the ocean. At times this journey causes them to wash ashore and seem to be happening more often in recent years. The question of whether global warming and the impacts of rising temperatures in the air and ocean may influence the currents of wind and water may impact the ecosystem and its inhabitants such as velella.
Velella have been catching the winds ashore in Oregon the past couple of years. I have experienced their presence at a few different beaches such as Short Sands and Ten Mile Creek where they remain stranded from the high tide. The majority of them die from being exposed to the sun and lack of water. Thousands of velella have been washed up along the edge of the ocean from winds that carried them to their final destination.
Velella live at the intersection of air and water in warm and temperate oceans. Their blue color helps to protect them from the uv light from the sun and act as a camouflage to predators. The blue pigmentation that dots the beach with vibrant coloring upon their arrival will fade over time leaving the clear exoskeleton made of chitin behind.
I arranged a fleet of velella in a procession of the species towards the setting sun. The form of their transparent exoskeleton and concentric rings catch the light and their reflection begins to mirror their life as creatures of water and air. Their existence upon the earth with the elements of sun and sky breaking down their form and eventually returning the colony of velella back into the ocean.