Bluebottle Jellyfish

Look, I’m just going to come out and say it first up. This is the wrong category. This thing is not a jellyfish. It looks like a jellyfish, and most people think it’s a jellyfish. This is where people are going to look for it. It’s not a jellyfish - a single animal - but a colony of different tiny animals, each with their job to do.

Basically a Bluebottle is a really angry, floating apartment building.

They’re also known as the Portuguese man o’ war for reasons that have sadly nothing to do with their epic 80s classic metal stylings. They float around, being pushed around by the tide and winds, trailing long tentacles into the water, snagging fish and other goodies.

Unfortunately for humans, being blown around means they often end up in shallow waters, where they get stuck onto people, sometimes in pretty large numbers. There are more than 10,000 stings by these assholes every year in Australia, often from people stepping on them when they’ve been washed up on the beach. Though there has been at least one death recorded by them (in Florida, actually) they’re usually not fatal.

Of course, they’re still a screaming agony. Let’s not pretend they’re part of a fun day at the beach. Stepping on one is basically like stepping on a hot coal, if a hot coal was long and sticky, and wrapped around your foot. Do not pee on someone who has just been stung by one. It doesn’t do anything. If you know that’s the sort of thing they’re into then it’s fine, but now is probably not the time.

Bluebottles are also called “stingers”, a name also used for the vastly deadlier Box Jellyfish. They’re not that dangerous. But they’re no day at the beach.

Portuguese Man o’ War, Blue Stinger, Man-Of-War
Physalia physalis