Blue Bottle Jellyfish (Portuguese Man of War) (Physalia utriculus)

17 Jun 2010 3 Share

Bluebottles are found nearly world wide as far as South Africa, Hawaii, France and Australia. Me thinks they follow the international ASP Surfing tour. Beware! Try not to get get stung by their power venom. Photographer Copyright is: © Justin Gilligan/OceanwideImages.com

Bluebottles are found nearly world wide as far as South Africa, Hawaii, France and Australia. Me thinks they follow the international ASP Surfing tour. Beware! Try not to get get stung by their power venom. Photographer Copyright is: © Justin Gilligan/OceanwideImages.com

If dogs or dolphins are a surfers best friend the dreaded bluebottle is our worst enemy.

Blown shoreward by summer onshore winds their food the phyto - and zoo - plankton is the basis of the marine food web and is superabundant.

Easterly winds that circumnavigate the Antarctic continent, transport enough food through the circumpolar current to drive the world’s food chain. The phytoplankton blooms that occur in the Australian Summer provide energy and oxygen for all the animals on earth including the bluebottle throughout the year.

One of the most common phytoplankton members of these blooms are the fascinatingly beautiful light diatoms, where the cells are enclosed in brilliantly complex silica shells that are marvels of microscopic design. Fenestrated Dinoflagellates that swim with their single flagella are also eaten by the blue bottle.

Why then are blue bottles blue and not green from all the green they are eating? It could be the blue dinosterol, the major sterol in dinoflagellates, or luciferin, the bioluminescant chemical that causes the blue-green glow at night.

The colour blue purple is a biochemical treasure chest of cool compounds that Dr. Angel Yanagihara of the University of Hawaii has begun to explore. www5.pbrc.hawaii.edu/pcrl/ There is a far red shifted fluorescent protein that emits in the near infra-red which is the furthest shifted red emitter ever found to date. Angel Yanagihara still needs a funding source to develop it further. It has fantastic potential for biomedical research as a non toxic tracer in living tissue that could be used in biomedical imaging for diseases such as cancer as well as cardiovascular crises such as stroke.

The blue bottle feeds on small fish and other small ocean creatures. They envelope their prey with their tentacles, where a poison is released thus paralysing its prey before being consumed. The tentacles adhere extremely well to their prey. If a tentacle is put under the microscope you will see that it looks like a long string of barbed hooks, which explains the ability of the tentacle to attach.

If a tentacle attaches itself to a human, it releases a poison (through the use of nematocysts), and if you continue to rub the skin after the tentacle has been removed more poison or venom will be released. If you are stung, it is best to wash the area without touching. A cold pack should be used to relieve the pain. If stung, please consult a doctor immediately. No fatalities have ever been reported within Australia or New Zealand from the sting of a blue bottle.

In Australia and New Zealand, this jellyfish is known as the blue bottle, due to its colour and shape when strewn on a beach. Elsewhere in the world it is known as the "Portuguese Man o War" as it is said to look like a Portuguese battleship with a sail.

This jellyfish is actually made up of zooids. The blue bottle is not a single organism, but made up of a number of zooids. Each zooid has a specific role and together they function as if it were an animal. For example a number of zooids will make up the stinging tentacles, others will make up the feeding tentacles, etcetera.

– William Perry.

The blue bottles are found nearly world wide as far as South Africa, Hawaii, France and Australia. Following the national Surfing ASP I think, just watch out and don’t get stung by it’s power venom.

The blue bottles are found nearly world wide as far as South Africa, Hawaii, France and Australia. Following the national Surfing ASP I think, just watch out and don’t get stung by it’s power venom.

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