Physalia physalis Portuguese Man-of-War

    This pelagic siphonophore floats on the surface by means of a gas-filled, balloonlike float that changes shape to catch the prevailing wind. Although periodically washed ashore on the more exposed beaches of other areas of the Florida East Coast, it is only uncommonly found on the beaches of northeast Florida as a result of sustained onshore winds. The stinging tentacles (nematocysts) can cause extremely painful stings, shock, and in certain instances, death. Admire the colors but don't touch.

Physalia physalis - Portuguese Man-of-War

Little Talbot Island State Park, Duval County, Florida 5/15/2004 (float about 200 mm.)

Digital photograph by Joel Wooster