Por­tuguese man o’ war

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Contents -

Though part of the same hugely di­verse group of ma­rine an­i­mals, the Cnidaria, the Por­tugue­se­man-of-war, is not a jel­ly­fish but siphonophore. An­other sur­prise is that each one is a colony made up of four sep­a­rate or­gan­isms, each of which has a dif­fer­ent func­tion. The gas-filled ‘float’ keeps the en­tire struc­ture at the sur­face of the ocean, en­abling it to drift vast dis­tances in search of food, as seen in BBC One’s Blue Planet II.

Irene Men­dez Cruz took this pho­to­graph in au­tumn 2017, while a stu­dent at Fal­mouth Univer­sity, af­ter a mass strand­ing on beaches in south-west Eng­land. Her plan was to pho­to­graph them in their nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment, but for cre­ative and safety rea­sons – the ten­ta­cles, which re­main ven­omous even af­ter death, are around 10m long and armed with deadly sting­ing cells – she took sev­eral spec­i­mens to an im­pro­vised pop-up salt-wa­ter stu­dio, han­dling them with la­tex gloves. (They were doomed to die and were be­ing re­moved from beaches due to pub­lic risk).

Photo:Irene Men­dez Cruz

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.