Portuguese Man O’War
This Portuguese Man O’War seem like a pretty jellyfish lying on the beach but it is, in actual fact, a siphonophore – not a single creature at all, but a colony of organisms, all working together. Siphonophores are predators that feed, like jellyfish, by dangling tentacles in the water that sting and paralyze small crustaceans and fish.
Great lengths should be taken to avoid the Portuguese Man O’War, with dire consequences a real risk should an unplanned encounter occur. This floating monster delivers painful stings with its long tentacles, its venomous attacks vicious, and its victims left stricken. Those on the receiving end experience symptoms similar to a severe allergic reaction — including swelling of the larynx, cardiac distress, fever, shock and sometimes even death.
Inflicting agonising red welts, the carnivorous Man O’War floats away, leaving chaos and carnage in its wake. Some 10,000 people are stung each summer in Australia alone, with the report of a siphonophore in the water enough to close beaches down and prompt widespread panic. Jellyfish? No. Dangerous? For sure.
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