Texas – Yes, you read that right. There are blue dragons at Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) but they’re probably not the kind of dragons that first come to mind.
The blue glaucaus, known more commonly as blue dragon, is a type of nudibranch or sea slug and officials with PINS call the sighting a “rare find."
“Blue dragons are a predator of the Portuguese man-of-war. After eating, they move the stinging cells from the man-of-war to the end of their ‘fingers.’ Because they concentrate the stinging cells together, their sting can be more painful than a man-of-war’s,” a post on the PINS Facebook page states.
A Texas family spotted several blue dragons last Saturday and snapped some photos of the creatures before releasing them back into the ocean.
KSAT spoke with Leah Lane who said she and her family took a trip from Mesa, Arizona down to PINS when her 7-year-old son Hunter discovered the first blue dragon.
“We then went on to find four more throughout the afternoon. One washed up right next to my foot at some point, luckily I saw him and didn’t step on it,” Lane said.
“Hunter really wanted to touch it, I don’t blame him, I did too, as they look very soft and squishy. But we discussed that since we have no clue what they are we better not. After thinking about it he even said ‘he might be like the poison dart frog mom, he is kind of brightly colored, which is a warning.' Smart kid," Lane said.
You may be wondering why they’re considered a rare find if the family was able to find four, in addition to several other people commenting on PINS Facebook post with photos of their own blue dragon discoveries.
“A lot of people are finding them lately. That will often happen with animals that a bunch will wash up at the same time,” said a spokesperson for PINS.
Lane said she and her husband Trey “spent three years camping out there, usually once a month or more, in college and neither one of us had ever seen one of these little guys.”
The blue dragons “get their vivid blue color from their food sources, which include Portuguese man-of-war and blue button jellyfish,” according to a past edition of the Padre Post newspaper, the spokesperson shared with KSAT. “They aren’t affected by the stinging cells (nematocysts) in these organisms, and they actually concentrate the nematocysts in cnidosacs (the black tips on the ‘fringes’) and store them for protection against larger predators.”
The Padre Post excerpt states that blue dragons spend most of their life “floating upside down at sea, traveling warm ocean currents, and capturing prey with [their] powerful venom.”
“They were fun to see and watch. They would fan out real big and then curl up, wiggle side to side. Very cool creatures,” Lane said.
“So, if you see a dragon in the park, be amazed as they are a rare find, but also keep your distance,” the Facebook post states.
Photo comments from the PINS Facebook post: