A spectacular blue dragon, that looks more like a Final Fantasy or Pokémon creature, washed up on the sands of the Australian Gold Coast. The mysterious creature was videoed and has been seen by hundreds of thousands of people across the world.
It is, in fact, a very rare sea slug – Glaucus Atlanticus – known by the non-scientific community under various names, including blue dragon, blue ocean slug, blue glaucus, blue angel and sea swallow.
The rarely-seen blue dragon is pelagic, i.e. it floats upside-down on the surface tension of the water, where it is carried along by ocean currents and the winds.
The Blue Dragon preys on other larger organisms. Individuals in captivity are known to attack and eat each other. (Image: Wikipedia)
There is a gas-filled sac in its stomach which allows it to float – upside down because of the gas sac’s location.
The blue colour serves as camouflage. Its blue underside faces upwards, blending the creature in with the blue of the water. The blue colouration is also believed to protect it from harmful ultraviolet (UV) light.
Its silver-grey side faces downwards, blending in the with silvery surface of the ocean.
Lucinda Fry, who shot the video, wrote on Facebook:
“Came across this odd critter at Broadbeach today. It’s a Glaucus Atlanticus.”
Blue dragon has dangerous sting
Do not be taken in by its tiny size (1.2 inches) and incredible colours and shape, biologists warn. It stores stinging nematocysts within its own tissues as defense against predators. If you try to handle one, you are likely to receive an extremely painful, and potentially dangerous (even deadly) sting.
The blue dragon can store the venom of its prey, such as jellyfish and Portuguese man o’ war. Biologists say they can eat jellyfish ten times their size.
Video – Mysterious Blue Dragon