Beach warning over blue dragons washing up on Aussie shores: ‘It hurts like hell’
Australian beachgoers are being urged to be aware of an eye-catching sea creature that may look pretty but can actually deliver a nasty sting.
Dozens of blue dragons, or glaucus atlanticus, have washed up on NSW and Queensland beaches this month, prompting a marine expert’s warning to beachgoers about the dangers the brightly colored sea snails can pose.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Man stung by blue dragons at Aussie beach.
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Experts say their size means most beachgoers don’t see the blue dragons until they wash ashore – but swimmers can feel their presence in the water, as their stings pack quite a punch.
That’s because the animal eats creatures like the venomous Portuguese man-of-war and stores its prey’s stinging cells — called cnidocytes — in pouches, said David Hicks, director of the University of Texas’ School of Earth, Environmental and Marine Sciences. .
Blue dragons will then use those deadly cells to protect themselves from predators and humans can sometimes get caught in the crossfire.
The pain of being stung feels similar to a man-o’-war sting, which can be quite painful and, in rare cases, life-threatening.
A sting from one of the creatures can be particularly nasty. Credit: Sylke Rohrlach / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm
Marine biology enthusiast Julian Obayd knows this feeling all too well.
The Queensland student documented his experience finding and releasing the creatures on beaches along the Gold Coast.
“It hurts like hell,” he says in one TikTok clip in which he shows the aftermath of several blue dragons being stung when trying to release them back into the water.
The brightly colored sea snails are found in temperate and tropical waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
In Australia, the species is mostly found along the continent’s southeast coast, from southern Queensland to northern Victoria, reports Australian Geographic. It has not been reported in Tasmanian waters.
Marine biology enthusiast Julian Obayd shows off his stitches of blue dragons and existing blue bottle stitches after trying to release the blue dragons Credit: TikTok/@julianobayd
The sea creatures have recently arrived in areas where they have not been seen before.
It is believed that this may be due to the warming of oceans and increased storm activity due to climate change.
Symptoms of a blue dragon sting can include nausea and vomiting, according to American Oceans.
If you’re stung by a blue dragon, it’s best to go to a hospital for treatment, according to Ocean Info.
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