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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  • helen0916
    helen0916Thursday, August 6, 2020 at 5:39 am
    They are really beautiful!!! So cool! Wow for a second I thought it really meant that it was real life dragon but it is so tiny I want him or her as a pet! OMG, it is so cute!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    • umistwoseventen
      umistwoseventenThursday, July 30, 2020 at 9:35 am
      thats so cool i thought they were going to be at least a foot but there so tiny!
      • legendarygamer
        legendarygamerTuesday, July 21, 2020 at 10:14 am
        Wow for a second I thought it really meant that it was real life dragon but tiny 😍😍 I want him or her as a pet I had a fish but the tank was to noisey and so I moved to my mom's tank and it is still alive right now and here and so I and my mom kept feeding it so he is a goldfish I got for free and the carnival in a church gym s so then got the goldfish and never died! It is a miracle😐😐😐😐😐😐
        • meowsizzle
          meowsizzleMonday, July 20, 2020 at 2:44 pm
          Pretty weird
          • chloeh10123
            chloeh10123Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 1:08 pm
            I think this is my NEW FAVORITE animal! I love that shade of blue! Follow me if you think this too!
            • 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
                • coolvae
                  coolvaeTuesday, July 21, 2020 at 11:49 am
                  I never even herd someone say. blue sea dragon. omg! WOW!
                  • coolvae
                    coolvaeTuesday, July 21, 2020 at 11:52 am
                    I wish I could spot one! but there very tiny. hahahahaha!!!
                • 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