Sea Creature Feature of The Week: Blue Glaucus

This vibrant Blue Glaucus or Glaucus Atlanticus is a species of sea slug in the order Nudibranchia. This species is also commonly referred to as the blue dragon, sea swallow, or the blue angel and use camouflage with its bright blue color among the ocean waves.

The Blue Glaucus are pelagic species meaning they are found in the open ocean of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian Oceans. This species swallows air bubbles to store in their stomach to keep them afloat while moving through currents.

This tiny species only gets to be about 3cm long but eats tentacles up to 30 feet long! Portuguese man o’wars are their preferred prey, and the Blue Glaucus stores the man o’wars stinging cells or the nematocysts for later use. The sea slug is not toxic on their own, but once they feel threatened, they use the stored stinging cells to use against predators. Groups of the Blue Glaucuses tend to wash on shore and surprise swimmers by stinging.

On top of using their prey’s toxins to sting predators, the Blue Glaucus has radular teeth that resemble a knife.

Be careful if you find yourself in the presence of the Blue Glaucus, as picking one up can bring a painful sting and symptoms of nausea and vomiting. The venom that is stored can remain active even after they die.

Nudibranch species are hermaphroditic and the Blue Glaucus is no exception. Both male and females produce eggs and sperms. The eggs float freely throughout the ocean or attach to surfaces such as their prey’s carcasses or other floating masses.

The IUCN Red List has yet to confirm the conservation status of the Blue Glaucus, but Oceana explains this is common for small marine invertebrates. The Blue Glaucus faces common issues such as human threats, climate change, global warming, and pollution.

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