Monday, March 13, 2006

Physalia physalis

Autumn is late in coming to Sydney this year, so i took the family to the huge arc of sand that is Manly beach to experience some surf and some waves. Around 2pm, the wind changed direction and blew thousands of these little monsters up onto the surf.

Europeans call them 'Portugese men-o-war' because they are supposed to resemble a Portugese battleship with a sail. Locals call them blueys due to their blue tinted airbags. Their stinging tentacles can stretch up to ten metres and apparently are the most excrutiating pain imaginable (their phenol poison works its way into your glands and ends up in your groin..).

What fascinated me though, was that despite warnings blasted from tannoys all afternoon, despite lifeguards patrolling the surf warning swimmers and despite literally thousands of these things being washed up on the shore, the surf remained packed with swimmers and surfers.

No wussies these Aussies...