Portuguese Man O' War's name comes from the sail-like shape of its crest which was believed to look like an 18th Century Portuguese battle ship.
Despite their gelatinous look, the Atlantic Portuguese Man O' War is not a jellyfish, but a floating colony of hydrozoans. They are siphonophores from the Physaliidae family.
Each animal is actually a colony of organisms called polyps, physiologically attached to one another. They have to work together and function like an individual specimen in order to survive.
Portuguese Man O' War have tentacles that can grow up to 50 metres in length. They are covered in venomous nematocysts used to paralyse and catch prey but to humans, they can give agonising and potentially lethal stings in rare occasions.
These marine creatures are very well adapted to life in the open ocean. The transparent blue and purple coloration camouflages the animal against the backdrop of ocean waves.
To avoid threats on the surface, Portuguese Man O’ War can deflate their gas-filled float through a siphon and briefly submerge.
Because they spend their lives at the surface of the water, exposed to sunlight and high doses of UV radiation, some scientists believe that the Physalia Physalis’ coloration might act like a sunscreen!
Despite being venomous, juveniles Nomeus Gronovii (otherwise called Man-Of-War fish), live amongst the tentacles of this siphonophore. They use them to their advantage for feeding and as a shelter from predators.
Since they constantly float in the ocean and their only way of locomotion is through wind and wave action, they can get trapped in shallow waters.
As soon as I heard about the mass strandings in Cornwall, I became fascinated by this alien-like marine creature and decided to capture its essence and experiment with different aquariums, background and light tables in a home made studio.
Due to extreme weather and recent hurricanes, the South West of England, particularly Cornwall, was hit by the biggest mass stranding of Portuguese man o' war since 2012.
The media quickly portrayed them as “deadly creatures” or “floating terrors”. Rather than focussing on that stigma, I wanted to challenge people’s perspective with this project by celebrating the beautiful shapes and colours of this unusual-looking creature!