Rare, cute & nasty: stunning stinger turns up at Rainbow
IF YOU thought being stung by a blue bottle was bad, than you wouldn't want to mess with the 'blue dragon.'
Visually stunning, the 'blue dragon' or Glaucus atlanticus is a species of sea slug found in tropical oceans around the globe, and has turned up in Cooloola Coast waters this week.
Luckily for Codi Ringland and friend, who found this little creature at Rainbow Beach yesterday, they only found out about the tiny slug's painful potential while researching after they handled it - and not during.
The mesmerising creatures, which grow up to about 3 cm, get their dangerous, and some say deadly, punch by feeding on blue bottles and Portuguese man o' war drifting unwittingly to their deaths.
They pull chunks off their bodies with strong jaws and rows of needle-sharp teeth and absorb their prey's stinging cells in their own tissues to use against predators, including humans.
If there aren't any venomous jellies around to ingest, blue dragons have been known to turn to cannibalism.
The store the stinging cells they consume in their pointy appendages (cerata), where they become concentrated and can produce a more powerful sting than their larger prey.
"I have handled them before and wasn't stung, but I would not recommend anyone pick them up because they can have a painful sting," Griffith University marine invertebrates expert Kylie Pitt told Gold Coast Bulletin.
Blue dragons float near the ocean's surface, and while vulnerable to the actions of waves and tides, its vibrant blue underside enabling it to blend with the water's surface as it floats upside down.
They are rare on Queensland beaches, but not unheard of.
But while the mesmerising creatures are alluring, the Blue Dragon's beauty is best admired from a safe distance.