Portuguese Man-O-War

Portuguese Man O'War (or bluebottle) wash up on sandy beach
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Scientific Name: Physalia physalis

Size: 150 mm (bell width)

What does it look like?

The Portugese Man-of-War is generally blue, with an enlarged translucent float (pneumatophore) and numerous long, bead-like tentacles.

Where is it found?

Occurs in tropical and subtropical Australia.

What are its habitats & habits?

The Portugese Man-of-War is found in marine waters, where it moves along the surface of the water using its pneumatophore as a sail, which it can change in size and shape by regulating the amount of gas within it and, in doing so, influence its direction and speed of travel. The tentacles are covered in nematocysts, which capture and immobilise prey, normally small fish, crustaceans and plankton.

Interesting facts

Although it appears to be a single organism, this species is actually a colony of different kinds of polyps (zooids), which work together for survival.

Australia is a beautiful and rugged country where you may encounter potentially dangerous wildlife, stinging plants, expansive remote areas and temperatures that can create major health issues. There are several ways you can ensure your safety while visiting Australia’s wild places. Find out more how how to stay safe and enjoy your holiday here.

Need a guest speaker for Peter Rowland Photographer and Writer

This species features in my book A Naturalist’s Guide to the Dangerous Creatures of Australia

A Naturalist's Guide to the Dangerous Creatures of Australia front cover

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