The Truth About Blue Dragons

On May 10th, 2020, CNN reported that "Blue dragons are washing up on the Padre Island National Seashore." "Here be dragons — literally," they opened, and it became clear that one of two things was happening: either a more magical world had been under our noses this whole time, or the word "literally" had transcended to its Final Form ala Dragonball and could now mean anything. Literally anything.

Bad news, Anne McCaffrey fans — literal dragons have not stormed the beaches of Southeast Texas. Nothing we say here can make up for that, and we're sorry. In lieu of fire breathing sapphire lizard kings from the abyss, please enjoy what could literally be described as a species of pelagic, shell-free mollusk. "Blue dragon" is a name shared by two sea creatures, in this case referring to Glaucus atlanticus, a three-centimeter sea slug.

We're disappointed too, but at least they look cool and can mess you up.

Do not touch

Jamie Kennedy, a spokesperson for the Padre Island National Seashore, wasn't sure what could have caused so many of these rare creatures to wash up all at once. In any case, they're undeniably cool, and the opportunity to see them up close is a rare one.

Blue dragons are fascinating. They're gorgeous, slow-moving predators that chow down on similarly sluggish creatures, notable Portugeuse man o' wars, the siphonophore responsible for more ill-advised medical urination than any other. Man o' wars are famously toxic, and blue dragons rely on that feature, harvesting and concentrating their poisons into the tips of the finger-like cerata around their edges. As a result, they're able to deliver a sting that's more painful and potentially permanently damaging than the man o' war can, with SciELO reporting side effects like nausea, vomiting, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. They'll sting you so badly that your skin will change color permanently. They'll basically tattoo you with pain.

Long story short, if you happen to be exploring the beaches of Texas and run across a tiny blue alien, look but don't touch. Literally.