Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish, 1822-1825.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraved plate by Coutant after Bessa and Lesson, from 'Voyage autour du monde', ('Voyage round the world') by Louis Isidore Duperrey (1826). The venomous man-of-war is a colony of different individuals, floating by means of a gas-filled sac. The tentacles can be as long as 18 metres and can cause severe injuries and even death. The colonies are found in warm seas, especially the Pacific and Indian Oceans, and the northern Atlantic Gulf Stream. Duperrey (1786-1865), a French marine hydrographer, was the commander of the 'Coquille' during its voyage (1822-1825) to Chile, Peru, Polynesia, the Molucca Islands (Indonesia), New Ireland (Papua New Guinea) and Australia.