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After high tides and tropical storms, the bathers at the beaches of Galveston Island and the neighboring coast often come in contact with the tentacles of the Portuguese Man-of-War floating in the water, with a resulting dermatitis from contact.
The Portuguese Man-of-War is a Coelentera belonging to the order of Siphonophora. This organism possesses a many colored body that has the appearance of a toy balloon when floating in the water. On closer examination, it has the appearance of a gelatinous mass covered with transparent membranes. From this body, long, retractile tentacles extend, with which prey are attacked. These tentacles, varying in length from a few inches to many feet, contain batteries of stinging capsules. The tentacles of the specimen illustrated in Figure 1 had an average length of 55 inches.
These tentacles float under the surface of the water, and on contact with the skin a dermatitis is produced,
CRUTCHFIELD ED. DERMATITIS PRODUCED BY THE PORTUGUESE MAN-OF-WAR. Arch Derm Syphilol. 1925;12(1):72–75. doi:10.1001/archderm.1925.02370070085009