11 6 / 2013

Portuguese Man o’ War, Physalia physalis
The Portuguese Man o’ War bears some resemblance to a jellyfish but is actually a siphonophore or colony animal, made up of many small organisms working together.  There are actually four different kinds of polyps (which are similar to sea anemones) and medusae (similar to tiny jellyfish) which make up the Man o’ War. All these creatures come from one egg which eventually sprouts all the different animals.  Nature is weird.  Anyway, the float/sail part of the Man O’ War is one organism, which can inflate or deflate to control the animal’s movement.  Other than moving the Man o’ War to the surface or below it, the animals doesn’t have much control over where it goes, relying on the wind for good or ill. The Man o’ War is named for the shape of this sail, which is supposed to resemble the sails used on 16th and 17th-century warships such of man of wars or caravels.
 The tentacles form the second organism— polyps on the underside of the float each have a single tentacle trailing from it which is covered in tiny hairs which detect the presence of fish, then launch barbs at the prey which contain paralyzing venom. The tentacles can grow to be up to 165 feet long, although the average length is about 30 feet.  Luckily, the venom is rarely deadly for humans, though a sting is still painful.  The third and fourth organisms in the Man o’ War are a polyp containing digestive enzymes, and the reproductive medusae.  These medusae are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female parts, so the Man o’ War could reproduce on its own, but usually doesn’t need to as these creatures are found in groups which can number up to the thousands.  Man o’ Wars are found in warm waters worldwide.(x)(x)

Portuguese Man o’ WarPhysalia physalis

The Portuguese Man o’ War bears some resemblance to a jellyfish but is actually a siphonophore or colony animal, made up of many small organisms working together.  There are actually four different kinds of polyps (which are similar to sea anemones) and medusae (similar to tiny jellyfish) which make up the Man o’ War. All these creatures come from one egg which eventually sprouts all the different animals.  Nature is weird.  Anyway, the float/sail part of the Man O’ War is one organism, which can inflate or deflate to control the animal’s movement.  Other than moving the Man o’ War to the surface or below it, the animals doesn’t have much control over where it goes, relying on the wind for good or ill. The Man o’ War is named for the shape of this sail, which is supposed to resemble the sails used on 16th and 17th-century warships such of man of wars or caravels.

 The tentacles form the second organism— polyps on the underside of the float each have a single tentacle trailing from it which is covered in tiny hairs which detect the presence of fish, then launch barbs at the prey which contain paralyzing venom. The tentacles can grow to be up to 165 feet long, although the average length is about 30 feet.  Luckily, the venom is rarely deadly for humans, though a sting is still painful.  The third and fourth organisms in the Man o’ War are a polyp containing digestive enzymes, and the reproductive medusae.  These medusae are hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female parts, so the Man o’ War could reproduce on its own, but usually doesn’t need to as these creatures are found in groups which can number up to the thousands.  Man o’ Wars are found in warm waters worldwide.(x)(x)

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