A marine animal described as “the most beautiful killer in the ocean” for its dazzling blue color and potentially fatal sting has washed up on an African beach.
The Glaucus atlanticus, commonly known as the blue dragons, was found on Fish Hoek Beach near Cape Town in South Africa by a local woman walking.
The sea snail feeds on the deadly Portuguese warship and other poisonous marine animals.
It then absorbs the stinging cells from its food and stores them in concentrated doses, giving it a much more powerful sting than its prey.
Typical symptoms of the blue dragon sting are nausea, pain, vomiting and acute allergic contact dermatitis.
Maria Wagener, who found the creatures, often helps stranded starfish back into the water, but this time happily escaped when her instincts told her to keep their distance.
‘I’ve never seen them before and I’ve lived near this beach most of my life,’ she said.
‘They look a bit like a sea scorpion. They are small, about an inch long. They are blue on the top and white on the bottom.
“It was not difficult to see them on the white sand.”
She continued: “I keep picking up starfish and putting them back in the sea, but I felt like they were going to get stung.
‘I probably would have put them back in the sea if I had had something to lift them.
“So no, I didn’t touch them!”
Ms Wagener estimates she found 20 on the beach, but says there “could be more”.
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And if there was any doubt that the creatures had ingested the poison from their prey, the grandmother found the evidence right along the beach.
“There was also a variety of other types of marine life,” she said.
“There were little blue crabs, Portuguese warships, and blue shells called Janthina Janthina.”
Fortunately, the blue dragons probably didn’t need Mary’s help.
She said, “They were very much alive when I saw them. The tide would have brought them back to the sea. ‘
Mrs. Wagener shares photos of her beach discoveries on her Facebook page, Fish Hoek Beach.