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Portuguese Man of War - Physalia utriculus
Topic Started: Jan 9 2012, 03:19 PM (4,213 Views)
Taipan
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Portuguese Man of War - Physalia utriculus

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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Hydrozoa
Order: Siphonophora
Family: Physaliidae
Genus: Physalia
Species: Physalia physalis

Name - In Australia and New Zealand, this jellyfish is known as the blue bottle, due to its colour and shape when strewn on a beach. Elsewhere in the world it is known as the "Portuguese Man o War" as it is said to look like a Portuguese battleship with a sail.

Colour - The blue bottles colour can range from a blue to a pink hue, with a transluscent body. The float or body of the blue bottle measures between 3 to 15 cms. The tentacles can range in length from 15 cms up to 10 metres!.

Structure - This jellyfish is actually made up of zooids. The blue bottle is not a single organism, but made up of a number of zooids. Each zooid has a specific role and together they function as if it were an animal. Polyps support the tentacles and are located under the float; there are 3 types of polyps: dactylozooid (that find and catch prey with poisonous stingers called nematocysts), gonozooid (that reproduce), and gastrozooid (that digest the food, like a stomach).

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Diet - The blue bottle feeds on small fish and other small ocean creatures. They envelope their prey with their tentacles, where a poison is released thus paralysing its prey before being consumed. The tentacles adhere extremely well to their prey. If a tentacle is put under the microscope you will see that it looks like a long string of barbed hooks, which explains the ability of the tentacle to attach.

Predators - The Man-of-War is eaten by many animals, including sea turtles.

Threat to Humans - If a tentacle attaches itself to a human, it releases a poison (through the use of nematocysts), and if you continue to rub the skin after the tentacle has been removed more poison or venom will be released. If you are stung, it is best to wash the area without touching. A cold pack should be used to relieve the pain. If stung, please consult a doctor immediately. No fatalities have ever been reported within Australia or New Zealand from the sting of a blue bottle.

Man-of-war washed up on beach
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Sources
Blue Bottle Jellyfish (Portuguese Man of War) (Physalia utriculus)

Portuguese Man-of-War



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