Rare Blue Dragons Are Washing Up On Padre Island National Seashore


Blue dragons are sea slugs that live in the warm waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans (Credit: Sylke Rohrlach / CC BY-SA 2.0/ Commons.wikimedia.org)

Since early May, visitors to the Padre Island National Seashore off the coast of South Texas have been discovering specimens of the rare blue dragon, or Glaucus atlanticus. Though the name evokes images of flying, fire breathing monsters, the delicate creatures are a type of sea slug that spend their lives in the temperate and tropical waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.

However, while the mollusks, which typically measure just three centimeters long, may not look as fierce as the legendary mythical creatures, they are not to be taken lightly. The sea slugs have the unique ability to store the stingers of their favorite prey — the jellyfish-like Portuguese man o' wars — and use them for defense when touched or disturbed. Even worse, blue dragons concentrate the stingers together, making their stings even more painful than those inflicted by the Portuguese man o' wars.

Blue dragons, which swim upside down, use their bright blue bellies to confuse airborne predators. Their dull gray backsides blend with the bright sea surface, keeping them hidden from predators in the water (Credit: Taro Taylor/ CC BY SA 2.0/ Commons.wikimedia.org)

Blue dragons, which spend their lives floating in the ocean waves on their backsides, use their coloring to their advantage. The vibrant blue underbelly provides a perfect camouflage in the water and helps deter airborne predators, while the dull gray backside seamlessly blends in with the ocean's surface, keeping the sea slugs hidden from potential predators under the sea.

The park officials, who have never encountered the stunning blue dragons in the area before, are unsure why so many are suddenly washing ashore. Their advice to visitors fortunate enough to see them? "Be amazed as they are a rare find, but also keep your distance!"

Resources: CNN.com, Padre Island National Seashore Facebook,

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  • 3pigman
    3pigmanMonday, July 13, 2020 at 1:11 pm
    • harrypfangirl
      harrypfangirlMonday, July 13, 2020 at 1:06 pm
      That is amazing!! The pictures are super pretty
      • laynebot5
        laynebot5Friday, July 10, 2020 at 1:23 pm
        Roses are red dragons are blue I'm really triping and so are you
        • laynebot5
          laynebot5Friday, July 10, 2020 at 1:12 pm
          So small 🐉
          • wolfieland
            wolfielandFriday, July 10, 2020 at 9:36 am
            they r so prettyyyyyyyyy
            • animalie
              animalieThursday, July 9, 2020 at 1:54 pm
              Cool! I love animals! Follow me if you are an animal lover!
              • wolfieland
                wolfielandFriday, July 10, 2020 at 9:38 am
                i followed u. but seriously this article is so cool
              • i_love_books
                i_love_booksSaturday, July 4, 2020 at 12:24 pm
                WOW. that is SOOOOOOO cool!!!! I LUV the ocean. follow me if you agree!!!
                • zaks
                  zaksSaturday, July 4, 2020 at 10:43 am
                  Wow that sounds like something my brother would love for a pet and maybe me also.
                  • thecoolsquid
                    thecoolsquidThursday, July 2, 2020 at 10:56 pm
                    They are soooooooo pretty !!😊
                    • oy405
                      oy405Thursday, July 2, 2020 at 9:04 am
                      I want to catch one but you should leave the wild alone.