Portuguese Man O’ War: A Symbiotic Group of Grouches

You are wondering why the name? Honestly, it seems like nobody can agree on why they've been given the name, but clearly, women were not involved with the naming. So I'd suggest you just make up a reason and roll with it the next time it comes up in casual conversation.

Contrary to popular belief, these bad boiz are not jellyfish, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise (Jellies are single organisms—whatever that means). They are a species of siphonophore—obv! So, basically they are a conglomerate of genetically identical clones that are specialized for a variety of forms and functions. These babes are stellar at working together, so if you need any tips on teamwork, this zesty balloon blob is for you.

How can you spot one? They have nasty tentacles that can range anywhere from around 30 feet to 100 feet. These lengthy wobbly-arms deliver a nasty venomous sting that kills its prey. While it’s not normally fatal to humans, it is heckin painful. Announcing one's presence is a great way to watch people scatter.

So how do they become this crazy mess of vibrant aggression? Well now that you asked, they start out as fertilized eggs and then start “budding” into the different organism’s parts. These polyps (coral is made up of polyps too, they are like friends!!!) need each other to survive so they merge into this:

Image courtesy of Islands in the Sea 2002, NOAA/OER. -  U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Image courtesy of Islands in the Sea 2002, NOAA/OER. - U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Marching bands all over the country have been trying to emulate these intricacies to no avail.

If you were to have one take away it should be that you do not touch one. That would go poorly for you because they have a nasty venomous sting, trust me, I got stung in the eye once—my left eye has never been the same.

Apparently, these nasties can inflate and deflate their balloon biz. Essentially, they are very angry and colorful lungs that kill things with a zappy tentacle. I do believe you have found your next Halloween costume!

Hey, it's ok, don’t fret, there are some ocean dwellers that eat them. Your friendly neighborhood loggerhead turtle and ocean sunfish eat these like candy—in other words they are the vigilantes of the sea.

I don’t know about you, but after all these crazy facts I am just fine not coming in contact with another Portuguese Man O’ War.



Don't Take a Black Bear Out With The Girls

First of all, I think we can all agree that Black Bears are cute. But, having one hang with you and the girls for Friday night drinks, maybe not the best idea. Just because it’s the smallest bear, doesn’t mean it should be your bestie. Now, if it boiled down to who take out for the night, the black bear would be far better a choice than their Grizzly counterpart.

What is more, the black bear is equipped with tools of coolness. For example, they range from black to “cinnamon” in color. Black is more common in the west, while brown in more common in the east. Who knew? Well, actually, probably all people that study bears, however, that is just not me. Additionally, they love blueberries. Every summer, my sister competes with the bears to see who can eat more blueberries, and I must admit, to date, it is unclear who is winning!

It should be noted that some scientists have even called black bears “quarrelsome”, so unless you are looking for a lot of drama, you might want to avoid them. So, if you were planning to prank one, you should be aware they have been clocked at 40 mph. (SECURITY ALERT, the average human sprint is 10 mph). So, unless you have a jetpack backpack, you may want to leave them alone. I would go out on a limb and say even Hussein Bolt would rather not race one of these cuties. I would even go out on a limb and say you probably don’t want to have a running contest with one either.

Furthermore, Black bears (aka big furry cuddle-muffins) can also swim well. One is believed to have swum 9 miles along the coast of Mexico. As a swimmer, I can state, that is SO FAR, even on those stunning coastlines they have down there. So, upon reflection of these beastly cuties, they may not make the best dates, but could potentially be spotted when whale watching in the gulf.

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