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ASTORIA, Ore. -- There was s a mass stranding along the Oregon coast this weekend. Millions of small, purple jellyfish-like creatures piled up onto the beaches, making for quite a sight.

The animals are called Velella Velella. They are also known as by-the-wind sailors. They're like a cousin to the jellyfish.

Every year around this time groups of them typically wash up onto our beaches.

But according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, only about every four to five years do we see a mass stranding like the one this weekend.

NOAA fisheries biologist Curtis Roegner was out on a research cruise from California to Astoria. He said they lined the entire Oregon Coast.

We saw probably this population about 40 to 50 kilometers offshore and they just covered the sea surface, Roegner said. There were millions and millions of them as far as we could see. It was quite impressive.

Ocean and wind conditions came together just right to cause such a massive beaching, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

They point out that Velella Velella do sting their prey while in the water, but they are harmless to humans.

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