Jellyfish

Jellyfish are also cnidarians, like corals, but the jellyfish we are familiar with are usually the free-swimming medusa stage of their life-cycle.

Commonly stranded after a storm is the balloon-like bluebottle (Physalia) which is related to the Portuguese Man-o-War. This is actually a colony, each polyp specialising in a function such as an air bladder or a stinging tentacle. Occasionally found the are two disc-shaped jellyfish with hanging tentacles – Velella with its little sail and Porpita without a sail.

Physalia tentacles can sting quite severely, even when dried, but the other two are harmless.

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 Common nameScientific nameDescription
BluebottlePhysalia physalis This aptly-named jellyfish is often beached in large numbers after a storm. Surprisingly, a bluebottle is not an individual, but a colony of specialised polyps. Some capture food, some digest the food, some reproduce and one becomes the gas-filled float. The sting is very painful. The local bluebottle is closely related to the Portuguese Man-o-war which occurs in northern Australian waters and overseas.