Alien-looking sea creatures in spectacular hues of blue, recently washed up on beaches in Sydney, attract with candy contours, only to strike with venomous stingers.
With a sting more powerful than a Portuguese man o’war, experts at the Oceana foundation said, these brightly colored creatures are known by a few lofty names–blue dragon, sea swallow, blue angel–but in fact are a species of sea slug.
According to a MailOnline report, the Glaucus atlanticus, as it is formally termed in Latin, recently surprised onlookers en masse at Freshwater beach and Curl Curl beach in the north of Sydney, Australia.
Meet the newest addition to Oceana’s Marine Encyclopedia… the blue glaucus! Also known as the blue dragon, sea swallow or blue angel, the blue glaucus is a species of brightly colored sea slug. Learn more: https://t.co/OnmCKZEGG3 pic.twitter.com/HteZFU0U9j
— Oceana (@Oceana) 15 listopada 2017
While these technicolor creatures look like something from a sci-fi movie, the venom they can muster in their sting is very real.
Australian Museum’s Melissa Murray told 7 News that these creatures are part of the blue bottle family.
“They’re absolutely beautiful,” she said.
The slugs reportedly wash up on Sydney beaches every year.
“The Glaucus atlanticus normally has tentacles in its system. If another creature tries to eat it they use the tentacles as a defence mechanism,” Murray said.
According to experts from the Oceana foundation, these sea slugs boast an impressive arsenal of defense tactics–including something known as countershading.
This feature allows the blue dragon to display one type of camouflage to predators attacking from below, and a different camo scheme to creatures preying on them from above.
Interestingly, sea swallows don’t produce their own venom–they find toxic prey from which to absorb poison. Their preferred meal, according to Oceana, is the venomous Portuguese man o’ war. When feeding on this creature, the blue glaucus absorbs and stores its venom so that it can deliver it later to some hapless victim.
So Murray said to be careful when handling the sea slug.
“So if you do see one, don’t pick it up with your hands. Use a bucket with water instead.”