Did you know: Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis) are not a type of jellyfish? They are a siphonophore, which is an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together. The man-of-war is made up of 4 polyps/organisms (think corals or sea anenomes): 1) a gas-filled bladder with a little “sail” that sits on the ocean surface for movement, 2) the tentacles that can extend up to 165ft (about the width of a football field) with venom and muscles for killing prey and bringing it up to 3) gastrozooids, or the digestive organisms, and finally 4) some reproductive organs. Man-of-war venom is said to be as toxic as a cobras, and while that is effective for killing prey, it is not deadly to humans (but boy howdy does it hurt to get stung!!).
Sketch and fact by Karli Chudeau
Lane, C. E. (1960). The Portuguese man-of-war. Scientific American, 202(3), 158-171.
[Edited by Adrian Perez]