Rare Blue Dragons Are Washing Up On Padre Island National Seashore


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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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  • vofujyly-159742569465
    vofujyly-159742569465Monday, December 7, 2020 at 1:00 pm
    i want that as a pet someday.
    • your_boi_john
      your_boi_johnThursday, December 3, 2020 at 5:16 am
      SO much color
      • emshappyplanet
        emshappyplanetWednesday, December 2, 2020 at 10:58 pm
        In class we’re writing news articles, i found this and now I’m writing about it!
        • thewonderkid10
          thewonderkid10Wednesday, December 2, 2020 at 11:53 am
          My teacher is having us do a template on something we can teach or write about so I am writing about The Blue Dragon (blue sea slug) they are so cool and cute!!!
          • izzyev
            izzyevFriday, November 27, 2020 at 9:08 am
            That is soo and when I mean "so" I mean sooooo weird.
            • love-art
              love-artTuesday, November 24, 2020 at 4:50 pm
              • dancingdonut11
                dancingdonut11Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 7:34 am
                they are very pretty!
                • dancingdonut11
                  dancingdonut11Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 7:34 am
                  SO COOL!!!
                  • harry2029
                    harry2029Sunday, November 22, 2020 at 10:58 pm
                    • muworufi-158021143096
                      muworufi-158021143096Friday, November 20, 2020 at 9:52 am
                      I want one 4 a pet
                      • harry2029
                        harry2029Tuesday, November 24, 2020 at 10:30 pm