Artic sea creature washing up on Virginia seaside beaches

August 23, 2022
Image courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA).

A slug native to the Arctic Ocean has been washing up on mid-Atlantic beaches, including Chincoteague and Assateague Islands.

According to a report from the Salisbury Daily Times, Clione limacina, more commonly known as the naked sea butterfly or sea angel, have been reportedly washing on Shore on Delmarva’s beaches.

Several social media posts have been made showing pictures of the naked sea butterfly angel on the beaches, much further south than they are known to roam. Usually found in the Arctic Ocean and the cold regions of the North Atlantic Ocean, cooler water temperatures along the Mid-Atlantic have led to their more southward migration.

Reports of the slug have also been made in Delaware at Cape Henlopen.

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The Times report continues “The town of Ocean City notes there is a process called upwelling at play, in which deep, cold water rises to the ocean’s surface. In the open ocean and along the shoreline, wind mixes the water around and brings water from the bottom of the ocean, which is cold and nutrient-rich, to the surface.

“The blue, orange, and red sea angel boasts two subspecies with the northern variation living in colder water and maturing at 1.2 inches and reaching a size of 2.8 to 3.3 in. Conversely, the southern subspecies reaches only about half an inch.”

Cooler than expected water temperatures have also caused hurricane predictions to be revised downward this summer.

However, this is not totally out of the norm. Reports indicate the naked sea butterly washed up on beaches in North Carolina’s Outer Banks in 2019.


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