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June 14, 1965

PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR

JAMA. 1965;192(11):994-995. doi:10.1001/jama.1965.03080240064020
Abstract

The pleasures of water sports, whether on the surface or beneath the waves, may be offset by inadvertent contact with some of the inhabitants of the sea. Along the North American coastline, dermal irritation results from touching any of the numerous stinging coelenterates such as corals, sea anemones, jellyfish, or hydroids. The highly irritating sea nettle, Dactylometra quinquecirrha, is a jellyfish whose presence occasionally drives humans from eastern beaches. In the seas of tropical Asia more deadly organisms may be found, notably the sea wasp, Chiropsalmus quadrigatus, a jellyfish whose venom may produce death in three to eight minutes.1

Commonly found along our southern Atlantic coast is the Portuguese man-of-war, Physalia physalis, which is not a jellyfish but a hydroid colony of different organisms of specialized function. Its tentacles, dangling beneath the surface, are covered with thousands of stinging cells capable of emitting microscopic organelles, the nematocytes, each of

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