Physalia

Physalia Physalis

Languages: English

Overview

Comprehensive Description

 Physalia physalis also known as the Portuguese Man O' War is commonly mistaken for a jellyfish. "The Portuguese man-of-war is a siphonophore, an animal that is made up of a colony of organisms working together. The name comes from the uppermost polyp, a gas filled bladder, or pneumatophore, which sits above the water and somewhat looks like an old warship at full sail. They are also, known as bluebottles for the purple-blue color of their pneumatophores" (A Portuguese man of war). The tentacles can extend to 165 feet, although, the average length is 30 feet (Portuguese Man-of War Physalia physalis).  

Author(s): LaPenna, Tara
Rights holder(s): LaPenna, Tara

Ecology and Distribution

Distribution

"Physalia physalis is found in tropical Atlantic waters and occasionally as far north as the Bay of Fundy and the Hebrides, and the Mediterranean Sea Portuguese Man o' war). They are reported abundantly off the Karachi coast in Pakistan, and are also common in the ocean off parts of Australia and New Zealand, particularly at the Sandspit and Hawkes Bay beaches during the months of June, July, and August. They are known to come ashore all along the northern Gulf of Mexico and both east and west coasts of Florida as well as around the Hawaiian Islands "(Portuguese Man o' war).

Author(s): LaPenna, Tara
Rights holder(s): LaPenna, Tara

Habitat

"Men-of-war are most often found in warm, tropical and subtropical waters of the world’s oceans "(Portuguese Man-of-war Physalia physalis).

Author(s): LaPenna, Tara
Rights holder(s): LaPenna, Tara

Trophic Strategy

"They feed on prey including fish, fish larvae, cephalopods, chaetognaths, and leptocephalus (eel) larvae. Their tentacles have pigmented regions that resemble larval fish, small shrimp, and copepods to lure prey into their stinging net" (Hoover).  Their tentacles tangle and stun their prey. After the prey is trapped, Physalia physalis contracts its tentacles to bring the prey into contact with polyps that secrete digestive enzymes to soften their catch (Hoover).

Author(s): LaPenna, Tara
Rights holder(s): LaPenna, Tara

References

[Anonymous] (2010).  Portuguese Man o' War. Wikipedia. 2010,
[Anonymous] (2010).  Portuguese Man-of-war Physalia physalis. National Geographic. 2010,
Hoover, M. (2008).  Portuguese Man -of-war (Physalia physalis). Marine Invertebrates of Bermuda. 2010,