Beautiful but venomous blue dragon sea slugs spotted off Florida beach
MELBOURNE, Fla. — Several blue dragon sea slugs were spotted on the beach near Cape Canaveral last weekend, and the evil-looking creatures with their menacing tendril-like digits were credited with stinging at least a few beachgoers by Brevard County Ocean Rescue officials.
It's difficult to distinguish between the sting of the blue dragon and the typical Portuguese man o'wars often seen on Florida beaches because their venom is the same.
Blue dragons fill themselves up with air and float on the currents, hoping to find Portuguese man o'wars to eat. They siphon off the stinging nematocysts from their preferred meal to store for their own use.
Known officially as Glaucus atlanticus, blue dragon sea slugs are also known as sea swallows or blue angels.
Angelic, though, these creatures are not. Each sea slug has dozens of digits fanning out from their finlike appendages in gradients from gray-white to a flame-blue. And each of those cerata can deliver a painful, sometimes dangerous, sting.
One cause for relief is that the demonic looking slugs only grow to about an inch long.
Brevard County Ocean Rescue chief Eisen Witcher said that several of the creatures were seen in the Cape Canaveral area over the weekend but haven't been spotted since