Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Poisonous 'Portuguese Man-of-War'

Like a tiny, poisonous bladder floating on the waves...

It is difficult to believe that this air-filled bubble, tinged with pale, iridescent blue, which drifts with ocean currents is in fact a horribly dangerous animal, but it is.  The Portuguese Man-of-War is one of the most poisonous marine animals there is, going by what I have read.  It is not like I have picked it up to find out or anything; ha!

The long tentacles which hang beneath the air-filled float bear thousands of stinging capsules which secrete a poison that is at least as potent and toxic as a cobra snake.  Yeah, I'd say that is very poisonous, wouldn't you?  There are many different species of the Portuguese Man-of-War, with the biggest one being equipped with tentacles up to 13 yards long!

These outlandish, freaky hydrozoans are found in warm and temperate waters.  It would be a mistake to assume that the Portuguese Man-of-War is at the mercy of the winds and currents.  In fact, during stormy weather it is able to deflate its bladder or pneumatophore, as it is called, by letting out the special gas which keeps it inflated.  Losing its buoyancy, it sinks down through the water, safe from the churning waves, until the sea is calm again.  It then reflates itself within a few minutes by producing gas from a special gland.  That's pretty neat, eh?

The Portuguese Man-of-War lives on a diet of fish and other marine organisms that happen to come within its reach and have the misfortune to be grazed by one of its murderous tentacles.  There is one small fish, however, that is totally immune to the poison of this marine creature, and that is the Nomeus gronovii (also known as the man-of-war fish), which feeds on the tender flesh without the slightest regard for its stinging tentacles.

If you'd like to read a more elaborate page about this bizarre, floating, poisonous marine creature, feel free to visit:

---End of Post "The Poisonous Portuguese Man-of-War"

Semi-related Post: Salpa Maggiore: See-through Sea Salps

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to mention that this little floating creature has a few predators out there that are either immune to the poisonous Portuguese Man-of-War and/or have advantageous defense mechanisms against it. If you are interested in those extra tidbits, the Wikipedia link I provided toward the end of this post will provide additional info.