What appears to be a single jellyfish is actually an organism built up of multiple individual creatures, which are integrated to the point where they cannot survive individually.
The Man O’ War lives at the ocean’s surface and has no means of self propulsion. Its tentacles carry a potent venom.
Blue Dragons, a type of sea slug, feed upon Man O’ War and absorb the venom. These sea slugs then concentrate that venom to make it even more deadly for use against potential predators. Other predators of the Man O’ War include the Loggerhead Turtle, Ocean Sunfish and Blanket Octopus.
If stung by a Man O’ War:
- avoiding further contact with the Portuguese man o’ war and carefully removing remnants of the organism from the skin (taking care not to touch them directly with fingers or any other part of the skin to avoid secondary stinging); then
- To apply salt water to the affected area (not fresh water, which tends to make the affected area worse)
- To follow up with the application of hot water (45 °C) to the affected area from anywhere between 15-20 minutes which eases the pain of a sting by denaturing the toxins.
- If eyes have been affected, irrigate with copious amounts of room-temperature tap water for at least 15 minutes, and if vision blurs or the eyes continue to tear, hurt, swell, or show light sensitivity after irrigating, or there is any concern, to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Vinegar dousing is not recommended as it may increase toxin delivery and worsens symptoms of stings from the nematocysts of this species. Vinegar has also been confirmed to provoke hemorrhaging when used on the less severe stings of nematocysts of smaller species.