Guardian Nature School Team Contact Blog Project Noah Facebook Project Noah Twitter

A global community of nature enthusiasts
photographing and learning about wildlife

Join Project Noah!
nature school apple icon

Project Noah Nature School visit nature school

Portuguese man o' war

Physalia physalis


Despite its appearance, the Portuguese man o' war is not a jellyfish but rather a siphonophore, which, unlike jellyfish, is not actually a single multi-cellular organism. A siphonophore is a colonial organism made up of specialized individual animals (of the same species) called zooids or polyps. These polyps are unable to survive independently, and therefore have to work together and function like an individual animal. It gets its name from the uppermost polyp, a gas-filled bladder, which sits above the water and somewhat resembles an old warship at full sail.


This is Atlantic Portuguese man o' war was spotted washed up on the beach on Kuanidup Island in the San Blas archipelago, Panama. While snorkeling offshore the island in the Caribbean Sea, other Portuguese man o' wars were spotted floating at the surface of the water, where they usually live. They prefer warm tropical or sub-tropical waters.

Species ID Suggestions

Sign in to suggest organism ID


Felix Fleck
Felix Fleck 3 years ago

Fantastic spotting and capture! Congrats.

Vipul Ramanuj
Vipul Ramanuj 3 years ago

Congrats for the SOTW. Excellent details and colours.

Great sotting Yaniv,i love these guys :-) congrats on the well deserved SOTW and thanks for sharing

Christine Y.
Christine Y. 3 years ago

Absolutely gorgeous! Congrats on SOTW!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 3 years ago

One of the best photos of Physalia I've ever seen- Congratulations on the SOTW. Well deserved !

Thank you very much for choosing us again for the SOTW! :-)

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 3 years ago

Congratulations yet again.

DanielePralong 3 years ago

Thanks for the additions Yaniv and Sarit! And congratulations, your Portuguese man o' war has been voted Spotting of the Week:

"Behold the colorful Portuguese man o' war (Physalia physalis), our Spotting of the Week! While it could be mistaken for a jellyfish, the Portuguese man o' war is a siphonophore (Order Siphonophora), a colonial organism made of specialized individual animals called zooids or polyps. The man-of-war comprises four separate polyps and get its name from the top polyp (pneumatophore), a gas-filled chamber somehow resembling an old warship. The man-of-war's tentacles are are covered with venom-filled nematocysts used to paralyze and kill its preys and which can inflict a very painful sting to humans. Our Project Noah Rangers team praised this spotting for the quality of the photographs and information provided, the completeness of the spotting, and the interest of the organism and the location it was spotted at".



Thank you very much for nominating our spotting for SOTW! We really appreciate it!!! :-)
We updated the habitat section with a more detailed description of the actual place where we spotted the man o' war.

DanielePralong 3 years ago

Congratulations on your nomination Yaniv and Sarit Wainer! As per our guidelines could please briefly describe the actual habitat where the spotting was made, as opposed to generic information? Thanks in advance!

AshleyT 3 years ago

Your spotting has been nominated for the Spotting of the Week. The winner will be chosen by the Project Noah Rangers based on a combination of factors including: uniqueness of the shot, status of the organism (for example, rare or endangered), quality of the information provided in the habitat and description sections. There is a subjective element, of course; the spotting with the highest number of Ranger votes is chosen. Congratulations on being nominated!

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 3 years ago

Beautiful color on this one.

Comarca Guna Yala, Panama

Spotted on Mar 26, 2015
Submitted on Sep 30, 2017

Spotted for Mission

Noah Guardians
Noah Sponsors

Join the Project Noah Team Join Project Noah Team