The Portuguese Man O' War Looks Beautiful, But Packs A Potentially Lethal Sting

If I told you to think of the most dangerous animals on earth, you'd probably imagine some of the stereotypical killing machines like  lions, tigers, bears (oh my!), sharks, crocodiles/alligators, or some other generally large animal with scary teeth and claws. You wouldn't be entirely wrong either, these animals have long been associated with danger and are certainly not to be taken lightly. Nature, however, is a tricky mistress. Not all dangers in nature are explicit. In fact, many of the most dangerous animals on earth are things that you wouldn't even think to be afraid of until it was too late.

While claws and razor-sharp teeth are certainly scary, Mother Nature has equipped other animals with a much less obvious weapon, though it's just as deadly (if not more): poisons and venoms. There are countless animals that release toxins into their victims in order to incapacitate them. For some, it's a way to secure prey, while others use it as means of self-defense. In either case, the results for the victim are usually the same - agonizing pain and death. 

By the way, if you ever wondered the difference between poison and venom, here's a simple explanation: poison has to be ingested/absorbed, whereas venom is always injected (via stingers, fangs, etc.). For example, certain types of frogs in the rainforest are poisonous because they excrete a toxin that is absorbed via contact, while nearly every type of dangerous snake is venomous because they have to bite you to get the toxin into your bloodstream.

In 2013, Stepan Bako was at the beach in the Bahia region of Brazil when he encountered this odd, jellyfish-like creature. 

This is a Portuguese man o' war, one of the most venomous animals in the ocean.


"Man of war" is a class of 18th-century warships, known for their size and intimidating firepower. The Portuguese man o' war was named due to its resemblance to one of these ships at full sail.

The Pirate King


Man o' war was also the name of a champion racehorse in the 1920s ...

Stargazer Mercantile

... and a 1980s American heavy metal band that wasn't afraid to make some unique fashion choices.

The Tyranny of Tradition

The marine animal, however, is no laughing matter.

The Weather Network

Though the man o' war bears a close resemblance to the jellyfish, it's actually a siphonophore. Essentially, it's a colony of minute individual organisms working in tandem as a "single" organism (kind of like coral reefs).


Their tentacles can grow up to 165 feet long, which is longer than a blue whale! 


The tentacles contain powerful stingers that cause intense pain that lasts a few hours, and red, whip-like welts that stay on the skin for the next several days.

Gianluca Tabone


In most cases, the sting itself is not fatal, though the venom can sometimes interfere with the heart or lungs and potentially cause death. 


Most fatalities from man o' war stings are actually caused by a panicked swimmer drowning while trying to swim ashore.


Despite being ocean dwellers, they can't actually swim on their own. They float around in the ocean in large groups, going wherever the winds and the currents take them.


Although they're pretty dangerous, I do have to admit they're still quite beautiful.

Via: Boredom Therapy

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