Man-of-War

by Camellia Staab March. 25, 2020 340 views

When the ocean is angry it spits out all sorts of objects. Some objects are familiar to most of us, such as sea shells, dead fish, seaweed, or sea plants. But other times it spits our things that are unusual.

This particular day, the Atlantic Ocean chose to spit out a ton of Portuguese Man- of -War also known as Physalia physalis.

At first encounter I thought they were a form of jelly fish. I knew better not to get too close ( been stung by one and I can tell you it is NO FUN!) But fortunately for me the life guard at the beach explained what they were called.

Once at home I looked up Portuguese Man-of-War and this is what I learned.

Anyone unfamiliar with the biology of the venomous Portuguese man-of-war would likely mistake it for a jellyfish. Not only is it not a jellyfish, it's not even an "it," but a "they." The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.

A siphonophore is unusual in that it is comprised of a colony of specialized, genetically identical individuals called zooids — clones — with various forms and functions, all working together as one. Each of the four specialized parts of a man o’ war is responsible for a specific task, such as floating, capturing prey, feeding, and reproduction. Found mostly in tropical and subtropical seas, men o' war are propelled by winds and ocean currents alone, and sometimes float in legions of 1,000 or more! 

The tentacles are the man-of-war's second organism. These long, thin tendrils can extend 165 feet in length below the surface, although 30 feet is more the average. They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. But beware—even dead man-of-wars washed up on shore can deliver a sting.
Muscles in the tentacles draw prey up to a polyp containing the gastrozooids or digestive organisms. A fourth polyp contains the reproductive organisms.

Man-of-wars are found, sometimes in groups of 1,000 or more, floating in warm waters throughout the world's oceans. They have no independent means of propulsion and either drift on the currents or catch the wind with their pneumatophores. To avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and briefly submerge.

It gets its name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore, which sits above the water and somewhat resembles an old warship at full sail.
Man-of-wars are also known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of their pneumatophores. The tentacles are the man-of-war's second organism.
Apparently no one told these guys how painful it would be if they were stung by one.

Apparently no one told these guys how painful it would be if they were stung by one.

Beachcombers be warned: The stalwart man o’ war may still sting you even weeks after having washed ashore. 

(source)

(source)

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There are 12 comments , add yours!
Antonio Gil 1 week, 1 day ago

I had only seen one once in Azores sea. Cool pictures

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Antonio Gil 1 week, 1 day ago

Thank you smile

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
Sherry Hill 1 week, 2 days ago

fascinating.. and pretty!!!

1 week, 2 days ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Sherry Hill 1 week, 1 day ago

Quite different and very intriguing.

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 1 week, 2 days ago

They are as beautifull as they are dangerous. Thanks for the info

1 week, 2 days ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Berckmans Peter 1 week, 1 day ago

They sure are unique.

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
Buster Bruce 1 week, 2 days ago

I was inflicted by one of these PMW while walking along our beach. After that encounter I will never walk bare foot on any Florida beach. You cant even see them. Beautiful set Camellia

1 week, 2 days ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Buster Bruce 1 week, 1 day ago

Thank you. They are gorgeous. I was so tempted to touch them, not with bare hands but with a stick or something, but none around. Curiosity will soon kill the cat smile

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 week, 2 days ago

And when they are not stinging, they are singing:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IaXzcTrY0Vg  smile

1 week, 2 days ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Björn Roose 1 week, 1 day ago

Haha! Good one smile

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
Don Baird 1 week, 2 days ago

Great photos and commentary. I've never seen one and can get by with just having seen your photos.

1 week, 2 days ago Edited
Camellia Staab Replied to Don Baird 1 week, 1 day ago

Thank you Don. Actually they are much pretty up close and as long as you are smart, no worries of being stung smile

1 week, 1 day ago Edited
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