Velella are close cousins of jellyfish. They are a hydroid colony, meaning they have separate sexes. Each colony is considered all male or all female. In its adult form, these little sea sailors have a sail that catches the breeze and are commonly seen floating adrift at sea.
*Although the floating colony stage is the one most people are more familiar with, however this is just one of many stages in a complex life cycle. The colony will later release tiny medusa (a few mm long) which are the sexual reproducing stage and will release eggs and sperm into the water. The eggs can develop into tiny larvae which later develop into the floating colony again!*
The following instructions will teach you how to make your own velella larva using paper. If you're interested in making an adult velella, check out the link here.
This craft tutorial is created by paper artist, Cheryl Teo (also known as Captain Lulo). Research reported in this tutorial was supported by the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative of the National Academy of Sciences under award number NAKFI DBS17. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative or the National Academy of Sciences.
*Text extracted from sunfishresearch blog.
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Step 1: Materials & Tools
- Clear coloured vellum paper (160 to 180gsm)
- Craft knife for scoring
- Fast drying adhesive
- Toothpicks to apply glue
- Yellow paint ink marker
- Cutting mat
Step 2: Print and Cut Templates
Print out the template in the attached PDF. There are two parts - one bigger than the other. Cut out the solid lines only. You can use either a scissors or craft knife to cut. The dotted lines are meant for scoring.
Step 3: Score the Dotted Lines
Score all the dotted lines using the back of your craft knife. Hold your ruler firmly in place with one hand and run the blunt side of your craft knife along the dotted lines, drag it down gently and create a crease. It is necessary to score your lines before folding them.
Step 4: Start Gluing
Start gluing the top part of the larvae together first. Use a toothpick to spread out the glue onto the tabs.
Next, apply glue to the tabs on the side of the larvae template.
Glue the hexagon template onto the top of the larvae.
Step 7: Add Little Yellow Dots
Use a yellow coloured ink marker and apply dots in clusters around the larvae. Repeat the same steps for the other larvae template.
Step 8: Put the Small Template Inside the Big One
Apply glue to the top of the smaller sized template and insert it into the bigger template.