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Thursday, August 19, 2010


The Portuguese Man-Of-War is a jelly-like marine animal that looks like a fragile blue bubble. These sea creatures are infamous for their very painful, powerful sting and very common in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Indian oceans, and the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream which are the waters just off the island paradise of Key Biscayne. It is sometimes found floating, and often found washed ashore, normally in the winter months and when the winds are blowing onshore.

The man-of-war's body consists of a gas-filled, bladder-like float (a polyp, called the pneumatophore) - a translucent structure tinted pink, blue, or violet - which may be 3 to 12 inches (9 to 30 centimeters) long and may extend as much as 6 inches (15 centimeters) above the water. Beneath the float are clusters of polyps, from which hang tentacles of up to 165 feet (about 50 meters) in length. The "animal" moves by means of its crest, which functions as a sail.

Some of the tentacles of the Portuguese Man-Of-War bear stinging nematocystic (coiled thread-like) structures that paralyze small fish and other prey.

The pictures here were taken on Caye Caulker.

In the water.

Washed up on the beach.