Portugese Man-of-War

Portugese Man-of-War on a beach

What does it look like? The Portugese Man-of-War is generally blue, with an enlarged translucent float (pneumatophore) and numerous long, bead-like tentacles.

Where does it live? Occurs in tropical and subtropical Australia.

What are its habitats and habits? The Portugese Man-of-War is found in marine waters, where it moves along the surface of the water using its pneumatophore as a sail, which it can change in size and shape by regulating the amount of gas within it and, in doing so, influence its direction and speed of travel. Although it appears to be a single organism, this species is actually a colony of different kinds of polyps (zooids), which work together for survival. The tentacles are covered in nematocysts, which capture and immobilise prey, normally small fish, crustaceans and plankton.

Scientific name: Physalia physalis

Size: 150 mm (bell width)