The Portugese Man-Of-War is well-known for its deadly sting, but there is a whole other side to the creature rarely seen. Ex-US military combat photographer Aaron Ansarov has been collecting stranded man-of-war on a Florida beach in order to study and photograph them. Rather than a single organism, a Man-Of-War is actually a colony of smaller creatures that are genetically identical, highly specialised and band together to create a larger and more complex being.
Unlike other siphonophores, the Man-Of-War actively propels around the ocean by using its ‘sail’. This specially developed organ allows it to traverse the surface of the sea in search of prey while dangling tentacles hang down as far as nine metres, each with deadly barbs to trap fish and shrimp.
There are many questions surrounding the nature of Portugese Man-Of-War and many of them have yet to be answered. Ansarov’s startling series certainly draws attention to their beauty, something so often obscured by talk of their fatal sting.