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,

Get the Workbook for this article!

Workbook contains: Article, Reading Comprehension, Critical Thinking Questions, Vocabulary in Context (+ answers), Multiple Choice Quiz (+ answers), Parts of Speech Quiz (+ answers), Vocabulary Game (+ answers)
Cite Article
  • moo3434
    moo3434Friday, September 18, 2020 at 1:40 pm
    Why was it so cute. I love the color of it too.
    • bunnie_kitty
      bunnie_kittyFriday, September 11, 2020 at 9:52 am
      I love the color of it!
      • jomiwowu-156993535441
        jomiwowu-156993535441Wednesday, September 9, 2020 at 4:59 pm
        soo cool. i can finaly say dragons are real. LOL. like if you agree
        • kittypuppy11
          kittypuppy11Saturday, September 5, 2020 at 4:06 pm
          What that's awsome! I have to go to the beach 🌴🏖🌞
          • henryggbro98
            henryggbro98Friday, September 4, 2020 at 9:23 pm
            so cool dude i would see that at that beach
            • flamepanda2445
              flamepanda2445Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 7:11 am
              cool a blue sea dragon
              • mpo00
                mpo00Friday, August 28, 2020 at 8:50 am
                • jamleonard
                  jamleonardThursday, August 27, 2020 at 9:26 pm
                  I thought that was some kind of bug😮
                  • rch9
                    rch9Thursday, August 27, 2020 at 2:39 pm
                    They are so pretty and COOL!!!!!! I never herd of them
                    • superdragon
                      superdragonThursday, August 27, 2020 at 11:17 am
                      the blue sea dragon is beutiful