Locals up and down the coast have been confronted with thousands of washed up blue bottles running the full length of our south coast beaches.
Although bluebottles appear to be single animals they're actually colonial organisms known as siphonophores. Within the colony, specialised polyps make up the float, tentacles, digestive system and gonozooids (for reproduction).
The float, or sac, supports the colony and can grow up to 15cm. These floats have the fascinating feature of leaning to the left or right – a design believed to be the marine stinger's way of ensuring that only part of a population is blown into shore and stranded during certain wind conditions.
Armadas of bluebottles travel the ocean's surface at the mercy of wind. Sometimes these huge floating colonys can be torn apart by seas and winds and then dispersed over great distances such as we have seen along the coast.
For suggested treatment if stung watch this video by SLNSW:
Photos by David Gray