General Description

Transparent clear to blue balloon float with a single, prominent long blue tentacle underneath. Float about 6 cm across, tentacles up to 1 m long.

Biology

These animals float on the surface with their tentacles hanging below in the water. The float can be orientated in one of two ways so that they are blown to the left (left-sailing) or to the right (right-sailing). This ensures that they do not all get blown in the same direction. Blue-bottles are not individual organisms; rather, they are colonies of multiple small zooids with different functions. The float is a single zooid. They catch small fish and planktonic crustaceans with their tentacle. Stings from the tentacle are very painful and require medical attention. Taxonomists are unsure how many species of Physalia exist; this species may be the same as the cosmopolitan Physalia physalis.

Distribution

South Pacific. Australian waters.

Habitat

Marine; open water, may drift near shore due to tides and winds.

More Information

  • Animal Type

    Anemones & allies

  • Animal SubType

    Jellyfish

  • Brief Id

    Transparent blue float, blue tentacle underneath.

  • Colours

    Blue, Transparent

  • Habitats

    Open water

  • Diet

    Carnivore

  • Diet Categories

    Fish

  • Hazards

    Contact with the stinging tentacle will cause extremely painful stings. In extreme cases cardiac difficulties occur. Seek urgent medical attention if in doubt. Hot water (NOT vinegar) is recommended emergency treatment.

  • Endemicity

    Recorded in Australia

  • Commercial

    No

  • Depths

    Shore (0-1 m), Shallow (1-30 m)

  • Water Column Locations

    Midwater, Surface

  • Taxon Name

    Physalia utriculus

  • Scientific Author

    (La Martiniere, 1787)

  • Common Name

    Blue-bottle

  • Other Names

    Portuguese Man-of-war

  • Phylum

    Cnidaria

  • Class

    Hydrozoa

  • Subclass

    Siphonophorae

  • Order

    Cystonectae

  • Family

    Physaliidae

  • Genus

    Physalia

  • Species Name

    utriculus