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Portuguese-man-of-war- born in Hawaii, bred as a jelly-fish

Updated on January 8, 2015

Little wonder it is a burning question of whether or not it is a jelly-fish- the Portuguese-man-of-war is an intriguing creature which in truth has earned its status as a pride among members of the Phylum Cnidaria.

The next time you make a visit to Honolulu, the Hawaiian Capital make no mistake about the presence of Physalia utriculus sprawling the length and breadth of the vast ocean bodies in the mid-Pacific. Also known as bluebottle, this species unlike the others found in warm waters all around the pelagic world is a rare preserve of the Polynesia. A beauty to behold, a sting to touch, these colony of polyps are not a single entity like the medusa, but a combination of four different organisms, which are highly modified for full adaptive processes. This species grows in quick proliferation both sexually and asexually in this part of the world more than other species for the reason that Hawaii's climatic and natural resources favour its course. I am talking about the rich seafood and the temperate climate.

The four polyps are: the pneumatophore, a gas-filled bag which floats above the water surface and shaped like an old Portuguese battleship, hence the name, plus it's colourful enough to dot the ocean plane with shimmering shades of purple, blue or transparent clear; the tentacles, which are long thin rope-like features rightly called tendrils which can extend to about 50 meters in length below the water surface; a digestive pneumatocyst which helps to catch its prey and ward off predators; and the reproductive polyp which helps its continuity from age to age. It must be stated, however, that the gas-filled bag,commonly known as Marissa or sail, contains elements such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and the non-reactive argon with the possibility of forming a clathrate compound with water. The Marissa has the capacity to deflate itself, releasing their gas content in order to protect the organism from predators on the water surface.

But why is this beauty-to-behold-on the-surface creature different from Jelly-fishes like sea anemone or hydra?

  1. For the most part, even though they are categorized as part of the hydrozoids, one of the four groups of classes under which all jellies are divided, they do not have the same cellular organization since they possess independent polyps coming together to form a Siphonophore.
  2. Jelly-fishes do not produce venom that stings like the man-of-war's, which are not only painful but lethal to humans. even dead man-of-war could produce the same effects
  3. Some other hydrozoids inhabit freshwater, but the man-of-war almost always are found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans- salt water regions. However, the breeding process of the man-of-war is everything like those of the hydrozoids. In essence, it can be called a jelly-fish with specialised features and functions.
  4. They do not move by means of any spontaneous action like some other hydrozoids, but are carried by the ocean currents in any direction.
  5. Unlike other jellies, they feed on fish, not limiting their diet to plankton as would do other jellies.

It may not be as deadly as the box jelly nor as large as the lion's mane jelly-fish, the deadliest and largest jellies known respectively, every time I reflect on this creature with no blood, no brain, no heart and yet with enough sophistication to live through the enormous amount of marine animals and not nearly endangered in the pelagic world I cannot but wonder about their design- a design, so delicately crafted, so infinitely rare. This leaves me, yet to ponder about the designer. It makes so much sense to say that an Intelligent Designer is behind their orchestration.


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    • beezico profile image

      Olusola Omo Badmus 6 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      thanks mardi... it pleases me to get your endorsement on the hub...

    • Mardi profile image

      Mardi Winder-Adams 6 years ago from Western Canada and Texas

      Interesting article with lots of details. I wouldn't want to run into one of these!


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