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Glaucus atlanticus (Blue Dragon) in the Azores

Updated on July 24, 2017

Sylke Rohrlach from Sydney - Blue dragon-glaucus atlanticus

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Glaucus atlanticus

Glaucus atlanticus is the scientific name given to a species of small, blue sea slug, a pelagic aeolid nudibranch, a shell-less gastropod mollusk in the family Glaucidae.

They float upside down to camouflage themselves in the water with the blue side (their bottom that faces the top) facing up and the silver/grey side facing down.

They feed on other pelagic species such as the Portuguese man o'war. Due to it's immunity to their venom they are capable of devouring Portuguese man o'war and jelly fish without any harm and they store all of the venom consumed within it's own tissue to serve as a defense against predation.

Any human that handles this slug may recieve a painful and dangerous sting. Due to their high consumtion of poisonous sea creatures, it may become more dangerous than those it consume.

At maturity Glaucus atlanticus can grow up to 8 centimetres in length. It has dark blue stripes on its head. It has a flat, tapering body and six appendages that branch out into rayed, finger-like cerata.

Habitat

This species have been known to live in South Africa, European waters and even Australia. They have been spotted in various locations, so pinning a habitat location for this species is difficult.

They float around and go where the current takes them.

Blue Dragon in the Azores

This year is the first year that this species has surfaced. It could be due to the large amount of jellyfish and Portuguese man o'war that have been showing up.

Since this is what they feed on, it could be the main reason that they have been attracted to these waters.

Recent news in the Azores have been confusing the people about how dangrous this slug could be. The most recent news have stated that these are not harmful in anyway yet they keep all the venom in their bodies when consuming other species.

After research it has been confirmed that if this slug decided to defend itself then it could be as dangerous as the Portuguese man o'war or even worse.

Everyine should be aware of this species when going to beaches or any salt water locations. They could show up anywhere if there is species for them to prey on.

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