Friday, February 18, 2011

My First Blue Bottle Jellyfish Sting

So I was trying to catch beach worms the other day - more on that later - when Christine noticed the delicate tentacles of a dreaded blue bottle jellyfish around my legs.

Bluebottle tentacles will cause a sharp, painful sting if they are touched, which is aggravated by rubbing the area. Intense pain may be felt from a few minutes to many hours and develops into a dull ache which then spreads to surrounding joints. The affected area develops a red line with small white lesions. In severe cases blisters and weals looking like a string of beads may appear. Victims may exhibit signs of shock. Children, asthmatics and people with allergies can be badly affected and many cases of respiratory distress have been reported in Australia.

I took photos of blue bottles for this post. One, with one long tentacle displayed:

I must have gotten a baby, or something, because it was just a mild, annoying sting—although it did last for a couple hours. Here are the marks left on my ankle:

But let's look further into the blue bottle jellyfish—which isn't a jellyfish. And it's not one animal. A blue bottle is four different kinds of creatures, known as zooids, living together to form what seems to be one creature. One kind makes up the flotation bladder, another does the hunting, another still the eating and digesting, and yet another takes care of reproduction. (Why do I always have to do the digesting and Francis always gets reproduction? It's NOT. FAIR!) I'm not kidding:
The Bluebottle or Portuguese Man-of-War is not a single animal but a colony of four kinds of highly modified individuals (polyps). The polyps are dependent on one another for survival.

The float (pneumatophore) is a single individual and supports the rest of the colony. The tentacles (dactylozooids) are polyps concerned with the detection and capture of food and convey their prey to the digestive polyps (gastrozooids). Reproduction is carried out by the gonozooids, another type of polyp.
I'll be doing more on these fascinating creatures in the future, and on zooids in general, in the future.


  1. And an explanation of why you were catching beach worms. I'm expecting that the reason is bait, in which case I would like to request a full and well-documented report sir.


  2. You've got it. But I can't catch the cheeky buggers. So quick! But I will, and I'll have a report.

  3. That there sounds like some kinda Communist jellyfish and if you ask me, no matter what dang color it looks like, it should be called a RED bottle Jellyfish. Damn Socialist Polyp Zooids!

  4. Beach worms are yummy! I eat them all the time.

  5. i would hate to be in your shoes

  6. It was an awful long time ago!

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