JellyFish Facts

Man of War

Man of War picture

Man of War

Looks can be deceptive, and especially if the creature in question is a Portuguese man-of-war. It is very easy to mistake this venomous invertebrate for a jellyfish. At an approximate length of 12 inches and a width of 5 inches, a man-of-war can grow tentacles measuring up to 50m in length, although 30 feet (10 meters) is the average. This jellyfish is generally has a purple-blue tint coloring.

The Portuguese man of war is also known as blue bottle, blue bubble, or just man-of-war. It derives its name from the resemblance of its uppermost gas-filled bladder, which floats above the water, to that of an old warship at full sail.

The man-of-War jellyfish can be found floating in the warm ocean waters throughout the world, though these are commonly found in Hawaii. These jellyfishes are never found alone since they do not have independent means of propulsion. The man-of-wars drift on the currents and are found in groups as large as 1,000 or even more. Inside these groups, there are smaller groups of four, exhibiting a symbiotic relationship. They depend on each other for their movements, prey and protection. Individually, in order to avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and briefly submerge.

These are carnivores and are covered with venom-filled nematocysts which are used to paralyze and kill small fish and other creatures. For humans, a jellyfish sting can be excruciatingly painful, and discomforting but rarely fatal. However, immediate medical attention is necessary for those allergic to the stings as things can become dangerous, even lethal.

One should look out for these jellyfishes when the winds change as these are washed onto the beaches. Even dead man-of-wars can deliver a sting. If you do get stung, firstly, do not use your hands to soothe the affected area unless you are wearing gloves and immediately rinse the wound with sea water or a saline solution and seek aid from trained lifeguards. Learn more about jellyfish sting treatment.

Jellyfish Fact: The Tiny Nomeus gronovii fish lives among the tentacles of the man-of-war and are immune to its sting!

Learn more about Jellyfish, different Jellyfish Species, general Jellyfish Information, Jellyfish Pets and Jellyfish Safety




Written by and Sudarsana Sinha.

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