- Blue dragons, a small sea slug with a powerful sting, have been found on the coast of Padre Island National Seashore in Texas.
- A 7-year-old boy found four of the blue dragons in a matter of minutes on May 2.
- The park says the “rare find” has a “defense worthy of the name dragon.”
A mythical sight recently washed up on the coast of Padre Island National Seashore in Texas: blue dragons (or the blue glaucus). Despite their name, these delicate creatures are actually a type of sea slug, but the park says the “rare find” has a “defense worthy of the name dragon.”
Also known as sea swallows or blue angels, blue dragons have been found floating through the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans in temperate waters, per Oceana, a nonprofit ocean advocacy organization. They’re typically very small (no bigger than 3 centimeters long) and have blue and silver coloring.
According to CNN, 7-year-old Hunter Lane found four blue dragons in a matter of minutes on May 2. He was on the beach with his parents — where they’ve been visiting for 30 years — and they’ve never seen one before.
The blue dragon’s appearance actually works to its advantage. It floats on its backside, exposing its vibrant underbelly to airborne predators as a “stay away” signal, while its blue hues act as camouflage within the water. Its gray backside seamlessly merges with the surface of the ocean, keeping it well hidden from potential predators below.
The tiny-but-mighty swimmer is not to be messed with, thanks to its meal of choice: Portuguese man-of-wars, a jellyfish-like organism known for its painful sting. While the blue dragon is not venomous on its own, it stores the stinging cells from its prey, so it can release them in the future when it feels threatened, per Oceana. “Because they are able to concentrate the stinging cells together, their sting can be more painful than a man-of-wars,” the park stated.
“Hunter really wanted to touch it, I don’t blame him, I did too, as they look very soft and squishy, his mom told KSAT, a local news outlet. “But we discussed that since we have no clue what they are we better not. After thinking about it he even said, ‘He might be like the poison dart frog mom, he is kind of brightly colored, which is a warning.’ Smart kid.”