This Tiny Blue Dragon Won’t Steal Your Riches, But He Will Steal Your Heart

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He may not be laying waste to the cities of man nor languidly luxuriating on a pile of gold, but this little guy is most definitely a dragon.

The Glaucus atlanticus, otherwise known as BLUE DRAGON (exhibit A for subject’s dragon-ness), is actually a species of sea slug. And it’s not even a big slug: the blue dragon only ever grows up to three centimeters in length. With that stature, I doubt Smaug would have managed to raze Laketown quite as successfully as he did. Don’t be so quick to judge the blue dragon by its size. Three centimeters does not a harmless sea slug make.

Too beautiful for mere mortals, the blue dragon rarely shows itself and instead spends its time feeding on other deadly sea creatures. It floats upside down in the water, supported and carried by the surrounding current. As is common with this kind of lifestyle, the blue dragon doesn’t let any one body of water tie him down, going where currents take him. Aside from sounding incredibly relaxing, this movement technique also shields the blue dragon from human eyes and protects it from the dangers lurking in the ocean. When it sits upside down like so, its blue underbelly faces upwards and blends in with the water while the grayish silver side of its body faces down and blends in with the sea’s silver surface.

If the blue dragon happens to be discovered, any attackers hoping to win glory in battle with this gorgeous sea slug will be greatly disappointed. Like any good dragon, the Glaucus atlanticus has some awesome (and terrifying) surprises in store. You can believe it’s ready and willing to bring about serious desolation.

Because it is immune to the venom in jellyfish, sea anemone, and others; the blue dragon can prey on these larger organisms and store their venom within its over 80 leg-like appendages, consuming the entire body of the organism in the process. It can then use this absorbed venom to defend itself from any future assailants looking to have a tiny blue lunch, kind of like the slug version of X-Men‘s Bishop. This incredibly cool and incredibly scary defense mechanism enables it to feed on the dangerously venomous Portuguese man-of-war, one of the many demonic creatures Australia has gifted to the world.

In spite of all of the blue dragon efforts to be left alone, humans with cameras still manage to catch glimpses once in a while. Here’s one such glimpse, just last year, that one lucky passerby in Australia managed to film. We hope this little guy found his way back to the water and continues to consume helpless jellyfish bodies to this day.

Came across this odd critter at Broadbeach today. It’s a Glaucus Atlanticus.

Posted by Lucinda Fry on Thursday, November 12, 2015

What would you have named the blue dragon? What other doppelgangers of fantasy creatures have you spotted in real life? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image credit: Sylke Rohrlach/Wikimedia Commons
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons, Taro Taylor
HT: The Dodo

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