NewsVenomous 'blue dragons' wash up on Gulf of Mexico beaches, spark interest and alarm

Venomous 'blue dragons' wash up on Gulf of Mexico beaches, spark interest and alarm

SURABAYA, INDONESIA - JUNE 21: A model showcases designs The Glaucus Atlanticus by Ninda Novianingsih on the runway during the body painting show : Miracle World The Ocean organized by Unipa Surabaya at Grand Atrium Royal Plaza on June 21, 2021 in Surabaya, Indonesia. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)
SURABAYA, INDONESIA - JUNE 21: A model showcases designs The Glaucus Atlanticus by Ninda Novianingsih on the runway during the body painting show : Miracle World The Ocean organized by Unipa Surabaya at Grand Atrium Royal Plaza on June 21, 2021 in Surabaya, Indonesia. (Photo by Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images)
Images source: © GETTY | Robertus Pudyanto
11:11 AM EDT, March 11, 2024

Jace Tunnell, Director of Engagement at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, reports that "blue dragons," as affectionately known, have been spotted on Texas beaches. Yet, finding one remains an uncommon occurrence.

These tiny, one-inch creatures, scientifically termed Glaucus atlanticus, might appear harmless with their cute appearance, but their danger is far greater than one might assume. Tunnell highlights the potency of the "blue dragon's" venom, stating it is three to five times more powerful than that of the potentially deadly Portuguese man o' war, a highly venomous species of siphonophore.
American wildlife researchers caution that a sting from the "blue dragon" induces excruciating pain, which can last for up to an hour, and might also lead to nausea and vomiting.
"It's the most painful thing you can imagine. It feels as though you're being stabbed with knives," described TikToker Julian Obayd during an interview with Inside Edition. Obayd learned this the hard way while filming these creatures.

"Blue dragons" found in Europe as well

"Blue dragons" dwell on the ocean's surface, preying on the toxins from the Portuguese man o' war and similar jellyfish-like organisms. As southeastern winds pick up strength during spring, these slugs are more likely to be found ashore, where they could accidentally harm beachgoers with their potent toxins.
Glaucus atlanticus inhabit the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. According to American Oceans, a collective of scientists dedicated to public education on marine species, the habitats of these slugs are expanding. The group notes their presence along the eastern and southern coasts of the Republic of South Africa, in European waters, near Mozambique, and off Australia's eastern coast.
Related content