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Physalia physalis

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Definition

noun

A species within the family Physaliidae characterized by being in a colony resembling a jellyfish


Supplement

Physalia physalis is a species belonging to the family Physaliidae of the order Sihponophora. It is commonly called as Portuguese man o' war or simply man-of-war. This species is a siphonophore and therefore it occurs in colonies just as other members of this group. Because siphonophores occur in colonies, a single colony is regarded as a single specimen comprised of zooids or polyps attached to one another and are interdependent. The colony that the man-of-war zooids form resembles a jellyfish or medusa. Their name was derived from the resemblance of their colony to an 18th century Portuguese war ship.

The man-of-war colony is a physonect colony. It has a pneumatophore, nectosome, and siphosome regions. It is transluscent although may be tinged with blue, purple, or pink colour. The presence of the man-of-war colonies in the open seas or beaches may cause the temporary closure of the beach. That is because of its venomous sting in the tentacles that can be painful. The sting of the man-of-war is responsible for the thousands of human stings on beaches especially in summer. It can leave a whiplike red welts on the skin and cause allergic-like reactions such as airway blockage, difficulty in breathing, etc.


Scientific classification:

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Cnidaria
  • Class: Hydrozoa
  • Order: Siphonophora
  • Family: Physaliidae
  • Genus: Physalia
  • Species: P. physalis [Linnaeus, 1758]

Other common name(s):

  • Portuguese man-of-war
  • blue bottle
  • floating terror
  • man-of-war

See also: