Enticing may not be the first word that comes to mind at the sight of a Portuguese man ‘o war floating in the waves, but these photos will make you want to get closer. They’re part of a kaleidoscopic series called Zooids: Faces of Tiny Warriors.
“I actually found a love for [the man ‘o war] during one of my regular visits to the local beach with my wife and kids,” Ansarov tells Quartz. ” They wash up in droves every year from November to February and nobody likes them.”
A retired Navy photographer, Ansarov lives in South Florida and runs a photo agency that exclusively represents US veterans. His wife Anna, also a professional photographer, collaborated on the Zooids project.
“These things are very poisonous and nasty, but I found their colors and vibrance very enticing. I took a couple home (I live a mile from the beach) and decided to see what these looked like under studio conditions. After the first day shooting them, I told my wife we needed to put a project together. She agreed and for three months straight that is all we did.”
Portuguese man ‘o war might resemble jellyfish, but they’re actually clusters of organisms that work together as single animal. Their long, venomous tentacles can kill small fish, and cause extreme pain to humans. Unpleasant as the gelatinous creatures may be to swimmers, the images below are stunning.