Do you know about Glaucus atlanticus? The correct name for blue dragons is Glaucus atlanticus. They belong to animals, namely nudibranchs, which means “sea slugs.” Moreover, they are also called blue angels, sea swallows, and blue sea slugs. In the Glaucus genus, a few species of blue dragons are very similar. These creatures float freely in the currents of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans, which are all temperate and tropical oceans. Blue dragons are small and hard to count, so no one knows how many there are.
Blue dragons only get to be about 1.2 inches long, but they eat much bigger animals. Moreover, they do this with radular teeth that look like the serrated edge of a knife and run along the chitinous jaw of the animal. Besides, chitin is the same tough material that makes up ants’ and crabs’ shells.
Where Does Glaucus Atlanticus Live?
These sea slugs are pelagic, which means they live in the open ocean. They utilise the surface tension of the water to float while in an inverted position. The winds and ocean currents move them along. G. atlanticus uses a technique called “countershading.” Their blue undersides are exposed, so they blend nicely with the ocean’s surface. Sea slugs have a silvery or grey side that faces down. When seen from below, this side blends in with the sunlight reflecting off the surface of the water.
What Does Glaucus Atlanticus Eat?
Let’s talk about the glaucus atlanticus diet. Glaucus atlanticus eats other pelagic animals, like the Portuguese man-of-war and other poisonous siphonophores. The sea slug stores stinging nematocysts from siphonophores in its own tissues as a defence mechanism against predators. People who touch the slug could get a painful and possibly dangerous sting.
How Big Is An Glaucus Atlanticus?
Even though it has a lot of ways to protect itself, the blue Glaucus rarely grows longer than 3 centimetres. And, unlike most nudibranchs that live on the bottom, this species lives all the way up the water column. The nudibranch stays afloat because it stores air in its stomach. The animal often floats on its back, showing predators in the air on its brightly coloured underside.
The bright blue colour helps it blend in with the ocean waves, and the greyish back helps it blend in with the bright surface of the water, hiding it from predators below. This is an example of a thing called “countershading,” which helps the animal avoid being eaten by both flying and swimming predators while floating in open water.
Is Glaucus Atlanticus Venomous?
The blue gaucus is not poisonous by itself, like other types of sea slugs. However, when it eats its favourite food-Portuguese man-o’-wars, the blue gaucus stores the stinging nematocysts made by the poisonous tentacles of its favourite food, they can be up to 30 feet long on average. Moreover, they store and concentrate the stinging cells for later use.
When the blue dragon feels threatened or is touched, it can release these stinging cells to deliver a much stronger sting than the Portuguese man-o’-war can alone. Like all nudibranchs, the blue gaucus is a hermaphrodite, meaning each individual can make eggs and sperm. A single parent can’t fertilise its own eggs and still has to mate in pairs. Both the male and female lay eggs that are long and spiral-shaped. The eggs often float in the water or stick to nearby surfaces.
Glaucus Atlanticus Facts?
1. Glaucus Atlanticus Are Not Good Pets
Want to know whether you can have glaucus atlanticus as a pet? However, some people think it would be cool to put a blue dragon in their home aquarium because of how blue it is. Moreover, these creatures aren’t easy to buy, which is a good thing. Because of how they eat, they don’t make good pets. You can’t find food for them at a glaucus atlanticus pet store. Besides, the other, clearer problem is that strong sting. Even the most experienced people who keep aquariums don’t add these nudibranchs.
2. Glaucus Atlanticus Are Hermaphrodites
All blue dragons are hermaphrodites, meaning they have male and female parts that help them reproduce. Moreover, when two blue dragons mate, they do it carefully. Their penises are long and curved, almost in an S shape. Because of their long bodies, they can’t be stung by their partner. After mating, the slug lays a string of 20 eggs on something that is floating, like driftwood or the floating body of its prey.
3. They Live In Groups Called Blue Fleets
“Blue fleets” are made up of groups of blue dragons that float among the blue siphonophores they eat. Thus, this makes sense for feeding and mating, but it makes it easier for ocean winds to blow them onto land by making more of their surface area visible.
Blue dragons roll into balls to protect themselves when waves catch them and push them toward the beach. Furthermore, if they get stuck on the sand, their poison will still work even after they die. Thus, this means that if a person picks one up or steps on one, they will get stung by its fiery tail.
4. They Camouflage With Color
The blue colour of this animal is not just for looks. The sea slug’s colour helps it as it floats on the surface of the water. Its cyan side faces up, so it blends in with the blue sea, and its silver side faces down, so it blends in with the bright surface of the water.
This smart colour scheme makes it almost impossible for predators to see it from above or below.
5. They can Sting
Apart from having a great camaflouge, the blue dragon has a pretty good way to protect itself. If the colouring fails, it will just give a very painful sting.
The slug is not poisonous by itself, though. It stores the stinging nematocysts made by the animals it eats, such as the poisonous siphonophores and Portuguese man-o’-wars. When the blue dragon is touched, it stores and concentrates these stinging cells so that when they are released, they hit even harder than the man-o’-war hydrozoan.
6. You Can See Them In Unexpected Locations
Many places around the world are seeing blue dragons for the first time. Thus, this could be because the warmer ocean and more storms cause them to float farther and/or land on different coastlines. The reason might be the number of Portuguese man-of-war changed over time.
Researchers changed the range of blue dragons to include the Bay of California, which is 93 miles farther north than before. This was done after a fisherman caught some blue dragons in 2015. They were seen in the waters of Taiwan in 2017.
FAQs: Glaucus Atlanticus
How Is Climate Change Affecting Blue Dragons?
Blue dragons seem to be moving to new places, like the U.S. Gulf Coast, because there are more storms and the water is getting warmer. Like many animals living in the sea, these sea slugs are affected by the acidification of the ocean, which could make their prey eat less.
How Poisonous Are Glaucus Atlanticus?
The Blue Glaucus is much more dangerous to people than the Portuguese man-o-war. If you pick one up, it might sting you and give you symptoms like those of its prey. They include feeling sick, throwing up, and pain. But the Blue Glaucus is not poisonous like other types of sea slugs.
What To Do If A Glaucus Atlanticus Stings You?
Since Glaucus is stung by Blue Bottles, the best treatment is whatever alleviates the pain caused by Blue Bottle stings. Regrettably, it appears that remedies for Blue Bottle stings go out of style somewhat frequently. When dealing with a Blue Bottle sting, it’s best to seek medical treatment or the guidance of a local Lifesaving Society.
What Happens If You Touch A Blue Dragon?
Blue dragons won’t think twice about stinging if they feel threatened. Their sting is poisonous not because they are poisonous but because they eat poisonous animals like the Portuguese man-o’-war. If you got stung by one, it would hurt a lot and most likely leave welts on your skin.
Are Blue Dragons Rare?
Even though humans don’t often see blue dragons, it’s hard to say how rare they are because they’re so small and hard to count in the ocean. The IUCN has not done a study on the species.
Can A Blue Dragon Sting You?
The blue dragon is just as poisonous as the man o’ war because it stores the nematocysts that give the man o’ war its sting in its own fingerlike appendages. A single sting from this little creature can cause severe discomfort, possibly even vomiting, a severe allergic reaction, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Is The Blue Dragon Real?
The blue Glaucus is a species of vividly colourful sea slug (nudibranch) found in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans in both tropical and temperate seas. It goes by a variety of other names, including the blue dragon, sea swallow, and blue angel.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.