Man of War, Siphonophore
I learned something new this last trip to Mother Ocean. Usually, I spend my beach time on the Atlantic coast, near where I grew up. This time we were on the Gulf, in Florida’s panhandle. On my first morning walk I came across dozens of these creatures scattered along the tidal lines…they are much different looking than the Jellyfish I’m accustomed to seeing. Otherworldly, even…they looked like manufactured plastic toys with the seams predominately showing…
The Atlantic Portuguese man o’ war (Physalia physalis), also known as the Man-of-war, bluebottle, or floating terror, is a marine cnidarian of the family Physaliidae. Its venomous tentacles can deliver a painful sting. Despite its outward appearance, the Portuguese man o’ war is not a common jellyfish but a siphonophore, which is not actually a single multicellular organism, but a colony of specialized minute individuals called zooids. These zooids are attached to one another and physiologically integrated to the extent that they are incapable of independent survival.
Lesson I took….don’t be a zooid. Be You.