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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  • lemon_tree
    lemon_treeWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 7:10 pm
    I remember seeing these on TikTok! Beautiful creatures. I don't know why people think they are actual dragons lol. But the colors! I heard somewhere that they sting.
    • lizzzy_winkle
      lizzzy_winkleWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 7:06 pm
      They are SO cute! I wish I had one.
      • state
        stateWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 4:23 pm
        • justiceplays07
          justiceplays07Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 2:59 pm
          THESE ARE SO ADORABLE (❤ ω ❤), I wanted to watch the one with the sea bunny tho இ௰இ
          • skywatcher2140
            skywatcher2140Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 2:24 pm
            Wow! This is so interesting! I never knew about these blue dragons in Texas, and they seem so cool! This article just gave me a new drawing idea, to draw the dragons. Their defenses are so fascinating too! I’m probably going to find out more about them.
            • radiant_day
              radiant_dayWednesday, May 27, 2020 at 1:31 pm
              very radiant!
              • effie302
                effie302Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 11:49 am
                if I had just a little bit more room in my bedroom for a fish tank I'd definitely have this in the fish tank!
                • summerbaby
                  summerbabyTuesday, May 26, 2020 at 5:34 pm
                  love the shades of blue!!!!!!!!
                  • froyosofi
                    froyosofiTuesday, May 26, 2020 at 1:37 pm
                    THERE SO SO SO LITTE AND SO CUTE!!! OMG!!!
                    • scp-123
                      scp-123Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 12:02 pm
                      yas they is big big BIG cute
                    • froyosofi
                      froyosofiTuesday, May 26, 2020 at 1:35 pm
                      THE BABYS ARE SO CUTE TOO!!!! AWWWWW THE BABYS!!!!!!!