The Portuguese Man of War looks similar to jellyfish, but they are not in
the same family. The Man of War is actually not a single type of marine
life. Instead it is made up of 4 different organisms that depend on each
other for survival. The Portuguese Man of War have been found in the
warm ocean waters all over the world. But beware, because they
seldom travel alone. Where there is one, there may be hundreds or
even thousands of them.
These amazing sea animals have a translucent air bladder about 3 to
12 inches long that allows them to float on the surface of the water.
This float can extend up to 6 inches above the water like a sail and
allows the Man of War to move through the water with wind and ocean
currents. Below the surface of the water the tentacles that are attached
to the Man of War's body dangle sometimes reaching 30 to 60 feet in
length or longer. The coiled, thread-like structure in some tentacles is
filled with venom that can paralyze and kill small fish. Venom-
containing tentacles can cause intense pain in humans and can leave
whip-like red areas on the skin that last for days. Sometimes the
tentacles become detached adhering to the skin and must be removed
cautiously to avoid additional stings. Sometimes the Portuguese Man
of War or their tentacles wash up on beaches and can even cause
stings several days later. Medical attention may be needed to remove
tentacles or if the person experiences systemic or allergic symptoms.