Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Venomous Blue Dragons Wash Up On Florida Beach

DEERFIELD BEACH, Florida - Venomous sea slugs that eat Portuguese Man-o-War have washed up on a South Florida beach this past weekend during the peak of Spring Break.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that a dozen Blue Dragons were picked up on Hillsboro Beach just south of the Deerfield Beach city line on Saturday.

Blue Dragons, known scientifically as Glaucus atlanticus, are sea slugs that float at the ocean's surface and consume jellyfish, including Portuguese Man-o-War and By-the-Wind Sailors. The Blue Dragons are not only immune to jellyfish's venom, but can actually store the venom they consume in their own bodies as protection from predators.

This eye-catching sea slug is often found in the Pacific and Indian Oceans but is also known to wash up from time to time on Florida's east coast. According to SeaSlugForum.net, a similar sighting occurred on Miami Beach in April 2010. But don't pick up Blue Dragons with your bare hands if you see one on the beach. That's because they are able to concentrate the venom and have a worse sting than Portuguese Man-o-War.

Photo credit: Sylke Rohrlach via Flickr