Portuguese Men of War

 

Those venturing out on our local beaches in South Wales in mid October may have been in for a surprise. Spread along the shore – there were maybe 400-500 on Rhossili beach – were Portuguese Men of War jellyfish. They are usually to be found out on the open ocean but the lively weather and post-hurricane storms drove many of them ashore. Although small, they are quite distinctive with a 'pasty-shaped' bladder which keeps them afloat but they are at the mercy of winds, tides and currents unlike many jellyfish which can swim to a degree.

Strictly speaking they are not jellyfish but an aggregation of different individuals known as a siphonophore. Also unlike many jellyfish the stings from the venomous tentacles, which can be up to 10 metres long, can still be activated long after the creature is dead so resist the temptation to touch it and keep dogs well away. They have few predators although Loggerhead Turtles, Blue Sea Slugs and the Violet Snail will all happily munch away at them. The young Blanket Octopus will even carry broken bits of tentacle which can be used either in attack or defence