Don’t touch these: Rare animals found on Texas’ coast sting like Portuguese man o’ war

Blue Glaucus, as photographed by Jace Tunnell (Jace Tunnell , The University of Texas Marine Science Institute)

HOUSTON – A wild and very blue discovery this week for scientists along a 328-foot stretch of Corpus Christi beach this week: four blue dragons.

No, they’re not from “Game of Thrones,” they’re a species of sea slug that washed up just north of Bob Hall Pier.

They’re tiny, but they’re powerful, as Mission-Aransas Reserve scientists said, advising against touching these animals since they eat Portuguese man-o-war and sting just as much.

Blue Glaucus as photographed by Jace Tunnell/ Mission-Aransas Reserve (The University of Texas Marine Science Institute)
Storm snail as photographed by Jace Tunnell / Mission-Aransas Reserve (The University of Texas Marine Science Institute)
Blue button burrow as photographed by Jace Tunnell / Mission-Aransas Reserve (The University of Texas Marine Science Institute)
Blue Button Burrows as photographed by Jace Tunnell / Mission-Aransas Reserve (The University of Texas Marine Science Institute)

According to American Oceans, an informational conservation organization, the blue dragon or Blue Glaucus, or Glaucus atlanticus, “poses a much greater threat to humans than the Portuguese man o’ war. Picking one up may result in a painful sting and symptoms similar to those of its prey. These include nausea, vomiting, and pain. But like other sea slug species, the blue dragon itself isn’t venomous.”

According to Oceana, a nonprofit that focuses on ocean conservation, “the blue sea slug can grow up to 1.2 inches in length. In addition to chomping on Portuguese man o’ war, the animals also hunt blue button jelly, and store their prey’s stinging cells in their bodies to use against predators later. They can swallow air and hold it in their stomach to float on the water’s surface, and a group of blue sea slugs floating together is known as a ‘blue fleet.’ These ‘blue fleets’ regularly wash up on the beach, where they sting swimmers and lay eggs on the corpses or other floating masses of their food.”

What do you think of these interesting little critters? Have you seen one? Let us know in the comments

We’ve got a number of cool finds washing up this week. We recorded 4 blue dragons (species of sea slug) in a 100 meter...

Posted by Mission-Aransas Reserve on Wednesday, April 6, 2022