Pink-hued, gelatinous sea creatures that began washing up in Huntington Beach this week have beachgoers and officials scratching their heads.
The small pod-like critters, which slither and burrow into the sand, were seen along Huntington State and Huntington City beaches late Monday and into Tuesday.
Lifeguards in nearby Newport Beach said they had not seen any wash up in their area.
Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Eric Dieterman said large numbers of the creatures washed ashore Monday.
"They've made an appearance on our beaches before," he said. "Not in this number, but I have seen them in the past."
Some onlookers speculated the creatures are sea salps, barrel-shaped animals that look like jellyfish but have dorsal nerve cords. They pump water through their bodies to move and feed on phytoplankton. They are common in equatorial, temperate and cold waters.
Some writers in an online forum for Huntington Beach residents pondered the creatures being sea cucumbers, sea slugs or even alien embryos.
Lisa Mooney of Glendora said she was collecting seashells near the Huntington Beach Pier on Monday when she came across the creatures, which she thought were small jellyfish.
"There were so many along the sand you could barely walk," she said.