Highly Venomous Portuguese Man o’war – Interesting Facts

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Portuguese Man of Water is also called the floating terror. It is due to their painful sting. So don’t touch after amazed by it’s beautiful colors. The Portuguese Man of War is a marine invertebrate having a similar appearance to jellyfish. This species collectively acts as a colony. So it is easy for them to hunt, feed, and procreate. Man of War travel in groups of 1000 or more.

Movement of Portuguese Man of War

The animal is seen in groups. They float on the warm water throughout the oceans.

Characteristics of Portuguese Man of War

Photo credit : [IG]@manusanfelix – Manu San Félix
The creature has a large gelatinous float with trailing tentacles. The bladder is filled with gases like Carbon Monoxide. Portuguese Man of War is a lightweight animal.

Portuguese Man of War is a colorful species. Normally it acts like a colony. So hundreds of colonies travel together. It has a translucent blue and purple color. They can easily camouflage in the ocean water.

Where do they live?

Portuguese Man of War likes warmer tropical and subtropical water. But you will find them in the Indian, Pacific, Caribbean, and Atlantic oceans too. Man of War does not live in the Arctic ocean.

What do they eat?

Portuguese Man of War is a carnivorous animal. It loves to have Small fish, plankton, crustaceans, and worms. The colony of Man of War does not actively find food. It tends to catch prey along the pathway on the top of the water. The combination of organisms participates in catching the prey and eating it. The dactylozooid captures and parlays the prey with the help of tentacles. The gastrozooid polyp consumes the prey. The researches have shown that each Portuguese Man of War eats about 120 larval fish per day.

Reproduction of Portuguese Man of War

The individual Man of War colonies consists of either male polyp or female polyp. The spawning happens every fall. It happens in large numbers. Colonies release reproductive cells in the water for fertilization. New colonies form as a result of budding or fission.

Life Span of Portuguese Man of War

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This creature lives for about one year. Several factors affect their life span. Water temperature and conditions are the main factors. Predators also slow down the life span of Portuguese Man of War.

What are the threats to Man of War?

Climatic changes and global warming

Climatic changes have become a threat to the whole living world. Global warming directly involves increasing ocean temperature and decreasing oxygen levels in the water. It creates a surrounding ideal for the Man of War.  So their colony increases. It is a threat to the species.


Though this animal has a sting, it also has predators. Predators are one of the main threats to the Portuguese Man of War. Crabs, fish, sea slugs, violet sea snail, and sea turtles consume Man of War. The blue dragon hunts this creature in an interesting way. It separates stinging cells of Portuguese Man of War. They grab the sting cells and store them in their pockets for future use.

The Pacific Sand Crab also hunts the Portuguese Man of War. It usually grabs the prey to the shore and shares it with other crabs. Sea turtles feed on Man of War. The turtles are attracted to polythene bags thinking of those as Man of War. The violet snail float on the surface of the water to catch this species.

Conservation measures

No, conservation measure is taken on behalf of Portuguese Man of War. The exact population of this species is unknown. It is believed that global warming will increase the number of Portuguese Man of War.

Interesting facts about Portuguese Man of War

The name Portuguese Man of War

The creature has a comparable shape. It was named after a Portuguese warship with full, puffy sails.

It is four organisms working as one

Though you see the Portuguese Man of war as a single animal, it is a combination of four different organisms. They are never able to work without each other. Every single organism helps each other to survive.

The top zooid is a pneumatophore. It resembles a blob with the aforementioned Mohawk. Man of War floats due to this organism. It is a gas-filled bag. The gastrozooids and dactylozooids are the tentacles of Man of war. They feed the tentacles and defense and capture prey. The last zooid is responsible for reproduction.

The Portuguese Man of war is not a jellyfish

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Many people think that the Portuguese Man of War is a jellyfish. But it is not a jellyfish. The Portuguese Man of War is a combination of multiple organisms. But jellyfish is a single organism. Both of them fall into the Physalia physalis species.

It has a horrible sting

The painful sting is common to both jellyfish and Man Of War. That is the only similarity these organisms have. The dactylozooids contain venom-filled nematocysts. It is used to kill the prey. The sting is very painful for humans. It is rarely fatal. The tentacles can reach up to 50 meters. If you are ever caught with an attack from the Portuguese Man of War, then use vinegar to wash away remaining nematocysts. You need to soak the affected area in hot water after removing tentacles.

Though the colony is dead, the tentacles can have sting. So the tentacles that float on the water or washed up on the beach can have stung. It is better to refrain from touching them.

The Portuguese Man of War Can’t swim

Portuguese Man of War can’t swim. How can they live in the sea? They use ocean currents and winds to propel forward. So their direction can always change.

Sometimes Portuguese Man of War causes problems for humans. Their painful sting is one such problem. It can cause raised red patches on the skin. The worse symptoms are muscle pains and fever. A woman has died in 2010 because of a poisonous sting. This species tends to have colonies near to humans. It is a great problem in Florida. Portuguese Man of War has a specific genetic diversity and also they have a role in the ocean’s food web.


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