Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Portuguese-Men-of-War Are Still Bothering Swimmers to the East

It's almost like a passive version of Jaws. More Portuguese-men-of-war are floating around and menacing swimmers to the east of Long Island Sound. From the Hartford Courant:

From Westerly in Rhode Island to Nantucket in Massachusetts, the summer has seen an unusual number of Portuguese men-of-war off southern New England. Scientists say a change in the pattern of the Gulf Stream, warmer waters, a northern wind and recent storms are probably all to blame.

Rhode Island state officials said the creatures had been seen at beaches in Jamestown, Newport, South Kingstown, Narragansett, Block Island, Charlestown and Westerly this summer.

Needless to say, that does not make those of us who will soon spend inordinate sums renting on Block Island happy. Men-of-war are essentially large plankton -- they float where the currents take them, rather than swimming where they want to go -- and so maybe the winds will change and blow them out beyond Cape Cod.

I don’t quite have the attitude though of Julie Coburn, a Massachusetts woman who told a reporter: “They’re not supposed to be here. We are.”


Blogger Sam said...

Dude, it's Portuguese Man o' War! The plural is "Man o' War." There ain't no "men-of-war." If you insist, you can relate to them as bunch of Siphonophores.

Men of War? Are you referring of President Bush and his male followers of Portuguese descent? (Laughs).

6:53 PM  
Blogger Tom Andersen said...

Dude, my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Seashore Creatures says it's Portuguese man-of-war. No idea what the plural is though.

And I think it's a slur against the Portuguese to link them to Bush's war policies.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Sam said...

Oops, sometimes I get cranky after programming for hours ... my bad. But there is some reasoning behind the Man of War motif, since they have sails and the "blue-bottles" have been known for centuries. If you recall at one time Portugal colonized several places in South America, Africa, and the Far East (Goa, India, circa 1510, for example). For several centuries they were truly feared. Today in Brazil, a version of Portuguese is still spoken.

The jest comes in from all the tentacles hanging down on our "jellyfish" here. When Man o' War ships went to sea for years, moss and seaweed would grow to enormous lengths. /Sam

9:39 PM  
Anonymous Jeff Main, Westchester Parks said...

That is so cool, Sam. I was not aware of the origin of the assigned "Portuguese Man o' War". I don't due as much interpreting as I used to, but will be ready to employ this bit of esoterica when the opportunity arries. I always learn something on this blog.

I guess this will justify the work time I spent reading the comments.


Jeff Main

2:14 PM  

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