The Portuguese man o’ battle, (Physalia physalis) is typically referred to as a jellyfish, however is definitely a species of siphonophore, a bunch of animals which can be intently associated to jellyfish. A siphonophore is uncommon in that it’s comprised of a colony of specialised, genetically similar people referred to as zooids — clones — with varied types and capabilities, all working collectively as one. Every of the 4 specialised elements of a person o’ battle is chargeable for a particular job, corresponding to floating, capturing prey, feeding, and copy. Discovered largely in tropical and subtropical seas, males o’ battle are propelled by winds and ocean currents alone, and generally float in legions of 1,000 or extra!
Resembling an 18th-century Portuguese warship below full sail, the person o’ battle is acknowledged by its balloon-like float, which can be blue, violet, or pink and rises as much as six inches above the waterline. Lurking under the float are lengthy strands of tentacles and polyps that develop to a mean of 10 meters (about 30 toes) and will prolong by as a lot as 30 meters (about 100 toes). The tentacles include stinging nematocysts, microscopic capsules loaded with coiled, barbed tubes that ship venom able to paralyzing and killing small fish and crustaceans. Whereas the person o’ battle’s sting isn’t lethal to individuals, it packs a painful punch and causes welts on uncovered pores and skin.
Beachcombers be warned: The stalwart man o’ battle should sting you even weeks after having washed ashore.