SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (KVEO) — A rare sea creature was spotted on South Padre Island, but touching it could be painful.
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 the 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 added that while these bright blue creatures are only about 1 inch long, 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’ wars 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 make 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 said beachgoers who run into blue dragons can take pictures but they should beware not to touch them.