Blue Dragon Sea Slug

Blue Dragon Sea Slug
BLUE DRAGON SEA SLUG (Glaucus atlanticus)
Pronounced: Glok-us at-lant-i-kus Order: Nudibranchia
Kingdom: Animalia Family: Glaucidae
Phylum: Mollusca Genus: Glaucus
Class: Gastropoda Species: Atlanticus


Blue Dragon Sea Slugs are only about 3 cm long, but can take on some of the meanest animals in the sea. They are small molluscs found in ocean waters, holding onto the underneath surface through surface tension and a gas-filled stomach bladder. One of their favorite foods is Portuguese-Man-O-War – a dangerous jellyfish with a painful sting. Blue Dragons will grab hold with their chitinous jaws filled with rows of pointed teeth-like “denticles” and tear off large chunks to eat. Not only are they immune to the stings of jellyfish and other toxic, stinging animals, they actually incorporate those defences into their own bodies when they eat pieces of their prey.

Their coloration is perfect camouflage – vibrant blue on top and silvery blue underneath. But wait, they actually float upside down, so their stomach is the bright blue with black lines and their back is silvery. From above, birds think they part of the ocean water and from beneath, to predators looking up at a light blue sky, they blend right in. Up to 84 cerata, those finger-like projections around its body, help to break up its outline so predators can’t see it as clearly. They also store the stinging cells from their prey, which they can use to defend themselves.

Blue Dragon Sea Slugs, or Glaucus atlanticus, were named after Glaucus, the Greek God of the Sea, who was transformed from a mortal fisherman into a Sea-God after eating a magic herb.

Not much is known about the reproductive and life cycle of the Blue Dragon, but reports indicate that long stings of hundreds or thousands of eggs are produced which either float freely near the surface, or are attached to parts of their prey after it is dead. From there, they probably hatch, like other sea slug eggs, into planktonic larvae called “veligers”, which feed on small zooplankton until they undergo metamorphosis into young adults. They have been found in waters in many parts of the world, including the Caribbean Sea into the Gulf of Mexico, South Atlantic, Indian Ocean, and the South Pacific.


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