Rare blue dragons have been washing up on a shore in Texas and bewildering beachgoers.
Visitors to the Padre Island National Seashore have spotted the creatures during their trips, sharing photos of the unique creatures online.
The dragons are a type of sea slug and are very small in size, usually only measuring up to 3cm, according to the Padre Island National Seashore (PINS).
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The sea creatures “get their vivid blue colour from their food sources, which include Portuguese man-of-war and blue button jellyfish,” according to a past edition of the Padre Post newspaper shared with KSAT.
When the dragons eat Portuguese man o’ wars they store their prey’s stinging cells in their “fingers” for their own use.
According to PINS due to the dragon’s ability to concentrate the stinging cells in their tiny “fingers” they are able to inflict an even greater sting than the original man o’ war would have been able to.
“So, if you see a dragon in the park, be amazed as they are a rare find, but also keep your distance!” warns the agency.
One of the people to spot the creatures on the beach was 7-year-old Hunter Lane from Mesa Arizona, whose family were vacationing in the area.
“Hunter loves sea creatures and thought he had found a blue button jellyfish,” Trey Lane, Hunter’s father, told CNN.
“After they picked it up in a beach toy he proclaimed to me that he had discovered a new species!”
Hunter’s mother, Leah Lane, told KSAT that the family spotted four within the space of the afternoon, but luckily the family avoided being stung throughout their encounters.
“Hunter really wanted to touch it, I don’t blame him, I did too, as they look very soft and squishy. But we discussed that since we have no clue what they are we better not,” she said.
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“After thinking about it he even said ‘he might be like the poison dart frog mom, he is kind of brightly coloured, which is a warning.’ Smart kid.“
Jamie Kennedy, a spokesperson for the park told CNN that sightings of the dragons on the seashore have seemingly spiked.
“A lot of people are finding them lately. That will often happen with animals that a bunch will wash up at the same time,” a spokesperson for PINS told KSAT.