TGIF: Portuguese Man-O-War Feeding

Despite being stung by one of them on a Gulf beach as a kid, Portugese Man-O-War’s are still one of my favorite organisms.  Hat tip to @echinoblog for the link to this video of a Portugese Man-O-War capturing a fish. Remember this species is colonial and made of four different polyps or zooids, working in unison and dividing labor.  The bladder is a single polyp called a pneumatophore.  The long tentacles are dactylzooids used for fishing.  The dactylzooids bring the fish up to another set of zooids, gastrozooids, responsible for digestion.  Last, there is set of zooids, gonozooids, in charge of reproduction. The scientific name Physalia physalis references the Greek term for bladder.

Dr. M (1746 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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2 comments on “TGIF: Portuguese Man-O-War Feeding
  1. WHOAH!! Methinks that would best be viewed in 3D whilst snookered. In my undersea game, I have placed a teratomorph, a pseudonatural gargantuan siphonophore, of sorts, for the adventuring party to discover at a later date. One player character is an ephyra, a jellyfish-merman inspired by the mauve stinger and a picture I saw over at elfwood.

  2. Pingback: Exploring the blurry line between colony and individual | A Schooner of Science

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