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What are 'Blue Dragons' That are Going Viral? Here's What We Know About the Rare Creatures Found in South Africa

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.

Image credits: Wikimedia Commons.

The creature, which looks like a cross between a lizard, dragon and a bird is known as a Blue Dragon.

If you've not seen photos of the 'rare blue dragons' recently discovered which are viral on social media, you may be missing out.

If you've missed out, a rarely seen or heard before creature was found on the sand in Cape Town, South Africa. The stunning yet poisonous creature is in shades of white, blue and metallic blue.

The creature, which looks like a cross between a lizard, dragon and a bird is known as a Blue Dragon. As many as 20 of them were spotted by a local in Cape Town.

What is a 'rare blue dragon'?

Resembling a jellyfish, blue dragons or glaucus atlanticus are not really dragons but tiny sea slugs that resemble miniature dragons, hence the name. The sea slug family they belong to are a pelagic aeolid nudibranch, a shell-less gastropod mollusk in the family Glaucidae.

How did they get to Cape Town?

These sea slugs are pelagic; they float upside down by using the surface tension of the water to stay up, where they are carried along by the winds and ocean currents.

Is it deadly?

Even if 3 cms big, blue dragons are expert hunters. Like other sea slug species, the blue gaucus isn't venomous by itself. When feeding on its preferred prey the blue gaucus stores the stinging nematocysts created by the prey's notoriously long, venomous tentacles — these tentacles may average up to 30 feet long!

The stinging cells are stored and concentrated for the future, so when the blue dragon is threatened or touched, it can release these stinging cells to deliver a far more potent sting.

Should the sighting be seen as a warning?

Blue glaucuses can swallow air and hold it in their stomach in order to float on the water’s surface, according to Ocenea.

A group of blue glaucuses floating together is called a “blue fleet.” These “blue fleets” often wash ashore and can sting people swimming in the water.

What will happen if one stings you?

If a Blue dragon stings then the following symptoms will reflect:

1. Nausea

2. Pain

3. Vomiting

4. Acute allergic contact dermatitis.

Science Ranch also states that aside from causing a very painful sting, this gastropod could potentially kill a person, especially those who experience severe allergic reaction to its sting.