The recent discovery of Bluebottle jellyfish on Portsea back beach and Bellarine front beach received a low key response in Melbourne mainstream media. Despite a fearful reputation that routinely causes closure of Queensland beaches, a web search revealed that the editors of ‘Adelaide Now’ seemed more interested.
Also known as ‘Stingers’ and ‘Portuguese Man o’ War’ (or Physalia physalis), these other-worldly creatures are an amazing partnership of four different co-existing organisms, each with a specialised function. Fiona Wilkinson’s pic above shows the Bluebottle ‘float’ which can sit up to 150mm above the ocean surface. What it doesn’t show is the fine tentacles, commonly 10m long, which trail below the surface and paralyse prey with their sting.
Bluebottles live on the ocean surface and are moved about by wind, tide and currents. In January 2010 Bluebottles were reported to be swarming near Queensland beaches; and by February they had been found as far south as Wynyard in Tasmania.