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The sting from a Portuguese man-of-war hurts like hell, so most people avoid the jellyfish-like creatures. Not Aaron Ansarov — he and his wife don rubber gloves and collect them when they wash up on the beach near their home in Delray Beach, Florida.
They take the creatures back to their house and Ansarov photographs them on a makeshift light table and then mirrors the image in Photoshop. He shot dozens of them this past winter and the result is a unique, psychedelic portfolio.
“It’s kind of like nature’s Rorschach test,” he says.
Portugese man-of-wars are not jellyfish, they’re siphonophores, which mean’s they’re actually a group of organisms, called zooids, that depend on each other to live. The creature gets its name from the upper-most organism which people say looks like the man-of-war warships that were first built by England in the 16th century. A different organism forms the tentacles, which usually hang 30 feet below the surface and have venom-filled nematocysts that are used to kill small fish. Man-of-wars are most commonly found in warm water and sting thousands of humans each year.