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biodiversity explorer

the web of life in southern Africa

Order: Siphonophora (bluebottles and other floaters)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Cnidaria > Hydrozoa

Physalia (Bluebottle, Portuguese man-of-war)

Bluebottles float around in the ocean and are notorious for their long tentacles (up to 10 m long) that sting people swimming in the water. Each bluebottle consists of a colony of individuals that function together as a single integrated animal.

Physalia (Portuguese man-of-war) [Photo H. Robertson, Iziko]

Porpita (Raft hydroid)

Has a round, flat gas-filled float. Harmless to people.

Porpita [photo by G. Williams ]

Velella (By-the-wind sailor)

 The float carries a vertical piece of tissue that functions as a sail.


Text by Hamish Robertson