SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (KVEO) – A rare, beautiful sea creature was spotted on South Padre Island – but if you touch them you’re in for a world of hurt.
Dragons are washing up on shore, but not necessarily the ones you see in movies. The blue dragon, which is actually a sea slug, is not commonly found along Texas beaches.
“It’s pretty rare,” said David Hicks, Director for the School of Marine Sciences at University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “We don’t see a lot of them but they are reported from Texas, that community of organisms they kind of go around in masses of water, if you see one you see 1,000 of them.”
Hicks adds that while these bright blue creatures are only around one inch, they can eat a Portuguese man o’ war, which is twice their size and similar to a jellyfish.
“They’re very small, so they’ll catch up to one of these Portuguese man o’ war and they probably won’t consume the whole thing because of the huge size difference, but it will certainly consume some of the polyps that makes up the colony of the Portuguese,” said Hicks.
While these blue dragons don’t breathe fire, their defense mechanisms are quite painful.
According to Hicks, when they feed on Portuguese man o’ wars they take over their stinging cells, making their stings worse.
“They can actually give you a sting that could be very similar to the Portuguese man o’ war and it actually can actually be a little worse because they concentrate the cells more than the Portuguese man o’ war does on its tentacles.”
Hicks is advising beach-goers who run into blue dragons that they can take pictures but beware not to touch them.