It might look like something out of a science-fiction movie, but the blue dragon, scientific name glaucus atlanticus, is actually a sea slug.
One of these rare creatures washed up on Broadbeach in Queensland earlier this month, drawn to the shoreline while chasing its favourite prey – the dangerous blue bottle jellyfish.
“Instead of digesting the sting cells, they store them on the outside of their body,” Griffith University marine invertebrate expert Kylie Pitt told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“They are really weird. They float upside and move around using the water’s surface tension.”
While undeniably beautiful, it’s not something you want to touch. The blue dragon packs a powerful sting.
A master of disguise, its colourful hues provide two types of camouflage. It’s silvery bottom half hides the slug from fish looking up from below and its blue topside offers protection from hungry birds.
Blue dragons are nudibranchs, creatures that shed their shell after the larval stage, and grow to between three and four centimetres.
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