The Portuguese man-of-war if a member of the Kingdom Animalia, phylum
Cnidaria(1), class Hydrozoa, order Siphonophra, the genus Physalia, and the
species Physalia(2).
The man-of-war is not an actual jellyfish, but a Siphonophor. Also the
man-of-war is not a single organism. It is made up of many different organisms
that work together. These organisms are called polyps.
The Portuguese man-of-war is usually found in the Northern Atlantic gulf
stream. It can also be found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the
Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The man-of-war will usually travel in groups, that may contain up to one
thousand members.
The main portion of the man-of-war\'s body is an oblong gas-filled
bladder. The bladder is usually nine to thirty centimeters long, and is a
translucent pink, blue, or purple. On top of the bladder is a crest. This is to
catch the wind, and move the man-of-war along. Below the bladder, hang long
stringy tentacles, that can reach a length of up to fifty meters. The tentacles
are made-up of three different types of polyps. The names of these three polyps
are: dactylozooid, gonozooid, and gastrozooid. The polyps are the parts that:
capture prey, digest prey, and reproduce. The dactylozooids have cells called
nematocysts(3). The nematocysts release a toxin(4) into anything that they come
into contact with. The gastrozooids then attach to the dead/stunned victim, and
spread over it. They digest it, and transfer food to the rest of the man-of-war.
Last, the gonozooids create other polyps. The means by which the man-of-war
reproduces, however, is not yet understood.
The fish Nomeus gronvii lives among the tentacles of the man-of-war.
This fish, which is eight centimeters long, is mostly immune to the man-of-war\'s
toxin. It will eat the tentacles, which will grow back, as its main source of
food. Although it is mostly immune to the man-of-war\'s toxin, the man-of-war
will sometimes end up eating it.
The enemies of the man-of-war are the Nomeus gronvii, and the loggerhead
If you were to get stung by a man-of-war, you would experience a very
painful sensation where you got stung. The toxin that the man-of-war uses blocks
nerve conduction. This causes a severe systematic syndrome. This is accompanied
by a fever, possibly shock, and interference with heart and lung functions.


"Portuguese man-of-war," Encyclopedia Britannica. 1988, University of Chicago:
Vol. IX, p.634-35

"Portuguese man-of-war," Animal Kingdom. 1972, United States of America: Vol.
XVIII, p.88-93

Caras, Roger. Venomous Animals of the World. United States of America: 1974, p.
17-18,, United
States of America:, 1997

Microsoft Encarta 1996. Silicon Valley Ca., Microsoft Corporation, 1997

1 Cnidaria and Celenorates are two interchangeable names for this Phylum.

2 Multiple sources were researched including the Encyclopedia Britannica, World
Book, Encyclopedia Americana, Microsoft Encarta, and Internet searches through
Yahoo, Altavista, and HotBot; however, no reference to Family was provided.

3 A capsule within specialized cells of certain coelenterates, such as jellyfish,
containing a barbed, threadlike tube that delivers a paralyzing sting when
propelled into attackers and prey.

4 A poisonous substance, especially a protein, that is produced by living cells
or organisms and is capable of causing disease when introduced into the body
tissues but is often also capable of inducing neutralizing antibodies or

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