Never had he laid his eyes on something like this. It was beautiful, he could barely contain his excitement at the thought of showing his family the strange creature he had found.
He reached down and picked up the astounding creature and looked over to where his parents were sitting. He made the mistake of glancing away from the charming, yet dangerous thing he was holding.
The Lane family had been going to the Padre Island National Seashore for 30 years, they considered it a tradition at this point. They always needed a place to get away, after all.
The Lane’s son, Hunter, had learned to love the soft sand and crystal water whenever they went away. But one day, the boy wanted adventure, so he traveled off on his own to find something that he hadn’t seen before.
Hunter really loved aquatic life. His favorite thing to do whenever they came to this beach was to explore the wet sand bt the shoreline to see if any mysteries of the deep had washed onto the shore.
Hunter walked on the shoreline, checking on either side, and up ahead of there was anything. He only saw the usual shells and garbage that had washed up in front of him. Suddenly, he saw a blue glint in the corner of his eye.
Blue is a color that really stands out amongst nature since it isn’t normally a color that plants and animals are. They normally have natural camouflage to ward off predators.
It wasn’t the same blue that you’d find on a flower. It was more like the dazzling blue of the sea. It faded into contours of silver and grey. Hunter lowered himself down a bit lower than he should have to take a look at the animal.
Small tentacles slithered out from the sides and grasped the air in Hunter’s direction, the boy fell back in surprise. It wasn’t something artificial, it was a real live animal!
Hunter was excited and scared at the same time. But overall he was just happy that he had found something that he had been looking for for so long. He had to be brave, he found a nearby stick and prodded the mystery.
The animal reacted by squirming on its side, Hunter could now see sand stuck to its tentacles as it squirmed. He decided to give it another prod.
Hundreds of thoughts were going through Hunter’s mind, maybe it was a new species no one else had found! He wanted nothing more than to become a famous and renowned explorer.
Among Hunter’s thoughts one voice was screaming out louder than the others, and it wanted him to pick it up. If he showed it to his dad he wondered if he’d let him take it home.
He thought about all the children’s jaws open when he brought it to show and tell. But with the boy excitedly daydreaming, he didn’t see any of the signs that were on the beach.
While the boy was trying to decipher the mystery behind the animal he had found, the Texas National Park Service was already hard at work trying to get the message out to the public about these small creatures appearing on the sand by the shoreline.
Hunter didn’t know the kind of animal he was thinking about touching with his bare skin, but he also didn’t even know what he would do in the case that it attacked him.
The park services insisted that if any beachgoers saw a “blue dragon” on the sand, they should avoid it at all costs. And no one should ever touch one let alone with bare skin.
In his excitement, Hunter hadn’t noticed any of the signs and had already picked up the animal. He was sprinting towards his family with a wide grin on his face.
Hunter had gotten to where his family was sitting and flashed them a big grin. He crouched down to show them the blue dragon that was trying desperately trying to escape.
Both his parents and his sister all loved animals. They were almost as excited as Hunter to see what he had found. They also wanted to pick it up and hold it.
Hunter’s father Trey leaned in and looked at the blue dragon closely – although of course, he had no idea that that’s what he was looking at at the time. “Was it some kind of colorful jellyfish or slug?” he wondered.
“Let’s take a walk and see if we can find more!” suggested Hunter excitedly. Holding onto his new pet, the family set off in search of more blue creatures. And they didn’t have to look very far.
As the Lanes strolled over to the spot where Hunter first discovered the creature, a huge wave crashed onto the shore, almost toppling Trey over.
But after the father managed to regain his balance, he felt something brush against his ankle. Trey looked down to see several more of the same blue creatures his son was holding. And that wasn’t all.
All along the shoreline, more of the mysterious blue creatures began to appear as the tide washed them onto the sand.
Other beach-goers had their phones out and were filming or taking pictures. A few looked panicked and were making calls. But when the worried father overheard one of the conversations, he froze to the spot.
“Hunter, put that down! Don’t touch it. It’s poisonous!” Trey screamed at his son. Hunter dropped the blue dragon and jumped away before another wave of them reached his feet.
The blue dragon – also known as glaucus atlanticus, sea swallows or blue angels – are not the kind of things a seven-year-old boy should be messing with. But how could a one-inch sea slug be so dangerous?
The marine gastropod spends its life bobbing along the temperate waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans.
Its favorite prey might sound familiar: the Portuguese man o’ war (a jellyfish with a VERY painful sting). But, to the blue dragon, it’s not only a source of food – it’s a way to load up on ammunition.
Mine, Thank You
Blue dragons aren’t venomous by their own nature, and they have excellent immunity to other creatures’ stings.
But the way they harm a predator is very interesting (and a bit scary). When they attach onto a man o’ war, their feathery fingers have little sacs on the ends, which they use to carry what it steals.
Floats Like A Butterfly
Sting cells from its food transfer to the little sacs where it’s stored for later.
The more it collects, the more agonizing the pain for its enemies – especially since it can be more concentrated into one spot, lighting the nerve endings on fire. But why are the creatures such an unnatural shade of blue?
Can’t See Me
The hue comes from what the blue dragon eats as well as the environment it lives in.
It floats with the blue side facing up to blend into the water and with the grey side down to be camouflaged from anything beneath it underwater. However, the blue dragon’s bright color was especially dangerous for young Hunter, because it drew him right to it.
“Hunter loves sea creatures and thought he had found a blue button jellyfish,” said his father Trey. “After he picked it up, he proclaimed to me that he had discovered a new species!”
But Hunter could have become the hunted if he spent even a second longer holding the dangerous creature – their stings hurt twice as much as a jellyfish’s.
Word of Warning
This is the first time park spokesperson Jaime Kennedy has heard of blue dragon sightings on the beach. “So, if you see a dragon in the park, be amazed as they are a rare find, but also keep your distance!” warns the national seashore.
In fact, as a general rule, maybe don’t pick up strange creatures you find unless you know exactly what it can do to you!