Some things are just crazy by Nature

Beautiful Blue bottle

Anyone unfamiliar with the biology of the venomous Portuguese man-of-war would likely mistake it for a jellyfish. Not only is it not a jellyfish, it’s not even an “it,” but a “they.” The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, an animal made up of a colony of organisms working together.  They are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.

The man-of-war comprises of four separate polyps. It gets its name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, or pneumatophore, which sits above the water and somewhat resembles an old warship at full sail. Man-of-wars are also known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of their pneumatophores.

The tentacles are the man-of-war’s second organism. These long, thin tendrils can extend 165 feet (50 meters) in length below the surface, although 30 feet (10 meters) is more the average. They are covered in venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill fish and other small creatures. For humans, a man-of-war sting is excruciatingly painful, but rarely deadly. But beware—even dead man-of-wars washed up on shore can deliver a sting.

Average size of blue bottle or man o' war

Muscles in the tentacles draw prey up to a third polyp containing the gastrozooids or digestive organisms. A fourth polyp has the reproductive organisms.

Man-of-wars are found, sometimes in groups of 1,000 or more, floating in warm waters throughout the world’s oceans. They have no independent means of propulsion and either drift on the currents or catch the wind with their pneumatophore. To avoid threats on the surface, they can deflate their air bags and briefly submerge. They are most often found in warm, tropical and subtropical waters. However, there have been hundreds of reports of them washing up on beaches in England, Wales and Ireland (Kirkpatrick and Pugh). In general, they can be found in the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and the Caribbean.

The way these organisms have evolved amuses me! Four different organisms attached together and working as one sounds a lot like some super robot from transformer movie. Only,  its real and wayyyy cooler 😀 just see how beautiful it looks!

Beautiful Portuguese man of war on a sea shore at sun set

Photograph by Jennifer Kiewit

Sources :


80 thoughts on “Some things are just crazy by Nature

    • Well I don’t know how to differentiate a baby man o’ war from a grown one.. I’m sorry. may be some one else reading this could enlighten us?

  1. Hi Uma,

    I had to steal the Blue Bottle picture for my 30th post – readers guide to my blog.

    My link button seems sticky today, but I did reference it back to you – love your stuff!


  2. Wow, I remember blue bottles from living in Australia, sooo scary. I’ve never been stung by one but I’ve heard some horror stories 😦 It’s creepy when the tide is out and you see them all over the sand.

    Great post, really interesting 🙂


    • wow! its amazing that you’ve seen them. I hope that I’d come across some too.. Of course I’d like to keep some distance though!
      I’m really glad you liked the post 😀

  3. They really are beautiful if you can get past their squishy kind of look and those nasty tentacles. I thought it was very interesting to read, also. I love your illustrations. I’m a picture person. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read, but I’m one of those people who wonder why they never illustrate adult books. 🙂

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