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Portuguese Man O’War and Other Colonial Creatures

portuguese man of war cs4k

This YouTube video is a little loud.

So, you’ve probably heard about this first creature. The Portuguese Man O’War is quite terrifying if you ever go swimming in waters near central America. As a girl I remember hearing about them and thinking that was one jelly I sure didn’t want to meet!

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But, it turns out this isn’t a jellyfish, rather it is the most famous of a group of animals that show God’s genius in an extraordinary way:

Marru Orthocanna, an arctic siphonophore
Marru Orthocanna, an arctic siphonophore

The Siphonophores

Some of these creatures live near the surface like the Man O’War, many live in middle depths, while others live in the deep sea. Some live in the Arctic while others prefer the equator. Some are tiny, but one, the Praya dubia is the longest moving creature on earth reaching lengths of >40m [131ft]!

I found a great page about siphonophores, with some nice pictures, at And the best 3 minute video introduction to them is at Plankton Chronicles. You can find out lots more there, but I’ll mention a few of the more important things here:

•They aren’t a single organism, but a whole colony of creatures working together
•All of them catch their food using stingers
•Some parts are just stomachs, others are just stingers
•They usually have a tube to carry nutrients along the body
•They are often hard for scientists to study

Even deciding whether they are one creature or a true colony isn’t straight forward. That YouTube video talks about the Man O’War being made of four different colonies, but only one of them produces the next generation of creatures. The website tells us all the parts of the creature start with a single polyp and then “bud” new “zooids” from “growth zones” to enlarge the colony.

Sounds like they’re a bunch of clones to me, except- they then develop those specialized roles. Our own bodies do something a lot like this when we’re first developing in our mommies. No wonder the scientists are confused!

Many Siphonophores are really delicate. Until we developed good diving cameras, it wasn’t possible to study them while they were alive, as even a gentle collecting device breaks them all to pieces. It’s exciting to live today when we can watch these things swimming in their own homes!

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Now for the Praya Dubia!

These super long, thin organisms also known as Giant Siphonophores drift through the deep sea trailing their stinging fringe behind them. If something disturbs them, they glow blue.

You can see in the video that it’s super thin and long, but that’s not nearly as long as they can measure. The best video of how long they can be is the one from Plankton Chronicles.

I don’t know if it’s the same kind of creature or not, but this last video is just 48 seconds long and shows how the long thin body has the hanging tentacles below:

Although evolutionists tell us organisms like the siphonophores are “in the same family” as many others, there is another way of looking at the similarities between these creatures. Every artist has their own style; God is a real person and He loves to do things in series.

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Psalm 8:6-9

For more close up pictures of the Portuguese Man O’War, the Marine Biology Image Database has over 70.

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Cheri Fields Lake Michigan profile 2020

Written by Cheri Fields

Hi, I’m Cheri Fields: 2nd generation homeschooling mom of seven, wife, writer, and science lover. There is a wealth of information available to help people see how trustworthy God and His testimony in the Bible is. The key is to explain concepts simply so they can be understood by anyone. This is my goal, and I’ve had a lot of fun tackling areas where the world tests our faith.

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