Monday, July 30, 2007

Portuguese man-o-war fact sheet

Physalia physalis | Portuguese man-o-war

The Portuguese man-o-war is not a jellyfish, rather it is a cnidarian made up of a colonly of animals known as zooids or polyps. There are 4 types of polyp that have different functions: The pneumatophore (or sail) is a gas-filled bladder used for floatation and movement (using wind currents). The sail can be deflated so that the animal submerges to escape an attack on the surface. The long tentalces that average one meter in length are made up of dactylozooids. These polyps are used to inject poison through the nematocysts (stinging cells) to paralyse small fish and other prey. The prey are dragged up to the gastrozooids, a type of polyp that breaks down and digests prey. The gonozooids are the polyps responsible for the reproduction of the organism (each individual is unisexual). The Portuguese man-o-war is very common in warmer areas of the world' oceans and rarely appear in water below 22ºC. In the Azores they are sighted frequently, especially during the spring months.  

Dimensions: 
• Tentacle length: 1 - 30 m
• Sail length: 9 - 30 cm 
• Sail height: 15 cm

Colony: About 1,000 organisms

Conservation status: Unknown

Diet: Small fish, crustaceans and plankton

Reproduction: Sexual and asexual (via budding)

In other languages
Portuguese: Caravela portuguesa
Spanish: Carabela portuguesa
French: Galère portugaise
Italian: Caravella portoghese
German: Portugiesische galeere
Dutch: Portugees oorlogsschip
Swedish: Blåsmanet/Portugisisk örlogsman 
Norwegian: Portugisisk krigsskip 
Danish: Portugisiske orlogsmand
Finnish: Portugalinsotalaiva
Polish: Żeglarz portugalskibąbelnica bąbelcoważywłogaaretuza 









The "sail" is harmless to touch, but the tentacles are dangerous - don't pick them up by yourselves




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