Deadly ‘blue dragon’ creatures wash up on South African beach baffling locals

A huge number of beautiful but deadly “blue dragons” have been found washed up on a beach in South Africa.

The bizarre creatures, often described as “the most beautiful killer in the ocean”, were discovered by a local grandmother, Maria Wagener, when she was out for a walk on a beach near Cape Town.

Maria didn’t realise that the strange-looking beasts she had found were a type of sea slug, Glaucus atlanticus, that preys on the deadly Portuguese Man’o’War and steals its poison to use for its own sting.

But luckily she didn’t pick one up, saying: “I pick up starfish all the time and put them back into the sea but I had a feeling that these would have a sting.”

That’s probably for the best. Typical symptoms of the blue dragon's sting include – to name a few – nausea, pain, vomiting and a severe and very painful rash.

"I've never seen them before and I've lived near this beach for most of my life," she said.

"They're a bit like a sea scorpion. They are small, about an inch in length. They're blue on the top and white underneath. It wasn't difficult to spot them on the white sand."

She says that she saw at least 20 of the mini-monsters on the beach but says there "could have been more”.

The blue dragons weren’t the only creatures washed up by the tide that day – Maria says she also saw a variety of other creatures, including the little sea slugs’ poisonous prey: "There were also a variety of other species of sea life," she said.

"There were little blue crabs, Portuguese men o' war, and blue shells called Janthina Janthina."

Although Maria didn’t return the creatures to the ocean herself, she thinks they probably survived: ”They were still very much alive when I saw them," she said. "The tide would have taken them back to the sea."

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