Portugese Man O' War

We are on our way to Newport from Bermuda and the wind has died completely. We are motoring and trying to stay occupied and focused. At first glance it seems like there is nothing out there but us! When you start gazing out of the boat however, you start noticing ripples where a fish has jumped and little tufts of sargassum. Yesterday I thought I spotted a plastic cup and was thinking about picking it up... as it got closer to our boat it turned out to be a sea creature, one I had never seen or heard of before! IUpon seeing the first one, I started spotting many more of these Portuguese Man o' war. It is the strangest animal, it looks like a jellyfish floating on the water with a sail sticking above the water. The ones we see are deep blue. I am spending a lot of time trying to capture a photo!

Here is some info I gathered on this breed and some very intriguing facts

The Portuguese man o’ war, (Physalia physalis) is often called a jellyfish, but is actually a species of siphonophore, a group of animals that are closely related to jellyfish. 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. They are propelled by winds and ocean currents.

Resembling an 18th-century Portuguese warship under full sail, the man o’ war is recognized by its balloon-like float, which may be blue, violet, or pink and rises up to six inches above the waterline. Lurking below the float are long strands of tentacles and polyps that grow to an average of 10 meters (about 30 feet) and may extend by as much as 30 meters (about 100 feet). The tentacles contain stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that deliver venom capable of paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans.

"Fun" facts

  • The stalwart man o’ war may still sting you even weeks after having washed ashore.
  • If stung, Current treatment is immersion in 45 degree celsius hot water for 20 minutes to treat the pain. Vinegar will make the sting worse.
  • It uses a float filled with carbon monoxide and air as a sail to travel by wind for thousands of miles. In the event of a surface attack, the pneumatophore can be deflated, allowing the animal to temporarily submerge.
  • The Portuguese man o' war is asymmetrically shaped: Looking down from above a man o' war, showing its sail. Sails can be left-handed or right-handed.This phenomenon may be an adaptation that prevents an entire population from being washed on shore to die.
  • The name comes from the animal’s resemblance to a sailing warship, the Portuguese man-of-war

Photo credit: By Catriona Munro, Zer Vue, Richard R. Behringer & Casey W. Dunn - [1] doi:10.1038/s41598-019-51842-1, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=113368044