Portuguese Man o' War on sand
Jade Small
Jade Small
May 17, 2021 ·  3 min read

Influencer Picks Up And Licks ‘Jellyfish’, Not Realizing It’s A Deadly Portuguese Man o’ War

So many of us are nature lovers who admire creatures from land and sea at a respectable distance. However, there will always be those who want to take a step closer. Some feel the need to capture a trophy photo for their collection. The world of viral online media means sheer shock value can drastically increase your following and user engagement. Outrageously, one TikTok influencer licked a Portuguese Man o’ War for a video. The user, alexa_reed2, had no idea how close of a call he had. [1]


#fyp #foryoupage #paratupagina don’t try this ⚠️⚠️

♬ original sound – Alexareed

How dangerous is a Portuguese Man o’ War?

Well, it is certainly not a plaything. Like this unsuspecting TikTok user thought, a Portuguese Man o’ War resembles a jellyfish. However, it is in fact a colony of organisms called a siphonophore. The lifeforms inside, known as zooids, are identical in their genetic makeup. They are almost clone-like and work together as a collective unit. The name is due to its likeness to an 18th-century Portuguese warship. Also, the fact it floats on the ocean surface, unlike many related jellyfish species. So this very lucky TikTok influencer thankfully escaped without touching the venomous tentacles. They can cause massive amounts of pain and produce welts on your skin. [3]

TikToker Alexa Reed said the Portuguese Man o' War was ‘still moving’ when he licked it.

The response to the video was astounding

The astonished TikTok followers responded immediately. One commenter was shocked, saying, “My man’s just picked up the deadliest jellyfish with no hesitation.” While another stated that, “He obviously didn’t see the ‘TOP 10 MOST DANGEROUS ANIMALS IN THE WORLD!!’ videos.” As third user explained, “That’s a Man o’war. They are 10x more dangerous than a jellyfish.” Another TikTok user felt that, “This guy’s playing with his life right now.” [2]

One particular user gave a more deep diving account. They revealed that it wasn’t,” a jellyfish, it’s a Portuguese man O’ war, also known as the bluebottle, also known as the floating terror.” They continued, “it’s a species of siphonophore armed with millions of explosive stinging cells powerful enough to make Nemo an orphan and occasionally turn a person into past tense.” [2]

Reed posted two follow-up clips of him playing with deadly jellies.

Some comments went deep

The user then revealed that “this man O’ war is responsible for up to 10,000 stings a year in Australia alone and the venom can cause excruciating pain for up to three days, leaving a nasty, whip-like welt as a souvenir.” They then admitted that “you’re lucky if that’s all you get because the venom can trigger an allergic-like reaction that results in throat-swelling, heart issues, and difficulty breathing, as you suffocate, possibly to death.” [2]

They went on to say that, “not only can they write your obituary days, even tentacles that have been separated from its body contain enough venom to incapacitate you. Getting stung by a Man o’ war is nowhere near a death sentence. Most of the time if treated quickly, it’s very survivable.” Finally they concluded, “even though being put in a coffin by one is rare, the agonising pain that comes with it might make you wish it wasn’t.” [2]

Mndiaye_97, TikTok
The Portuguese man o’ war is recognized by its balloon-like float.
Elizabeth Condon, National Science Foundation

This TikTok user seemed completely unphased by the experience. Even when a passing dog walker warned him of the danger he just posted more clips. It seems like capturing content has taken priority over safety. He got caught up in a moment that could have ended very painfully. The initial video has since stacked up over 622,000 likes. So hopefully, there is more awareness at least of the danger a Portuguese Man o’ War can pose. [1]

Still looking for more? Check out these outrageous influencer stories:

You can read about an influencer who had their passport seized for painting a mask on their face. Another controversial influencer was deported, after bragging about her easy life in Bali. Or, how about a Youtuber who almost met his end when he decided to cement his head in a microwave. We hope you enjoy these tall tales and remember folks, do NOT try this at home!

Keep Reading: Beachgoer Discovers Monstrous-Looking Deep-Sea Fish Rarely Seen Ashore


  1. TikToker Picks Up And Licks “Jellyfish”, Not Realizing It’s A Deadly Portuguese Man o’ War.” IFL Science. May 10, 2021
  2. TikTok user licks Man o’ war in viral video and people are pointing out how stupid he is.” Indy100. May 11. 2021
  3. What is a Portuguese Man o’ War?National Ocean Service.