The beaches of Alicante were during the summer of 2021 protagonists of a historic milestone for marine biology. Several specimens of the blue dragon, with the scientific name glaucus atlanticusa mollusk that had not been heard of for nearly three centuries.
These aquatic invertebrate animals are between 3 or 4 centimeters in size and belong to the nudibranch gastropod family, which is the same as that of sea slugs.
300 years after the last time a blue dragon was observed, on August 19, 2021, some bathers alerted that there were three mysterious mollusks stranded on the shore of Las Estacas cove, in Orihuela. Two days later, on August 21, an identical episode took place on La Mata beach, in Torrevieja, where three other specimens appeared.
The coordinators of the lifeguard services of both coastal towns in Alicante contacted the members of the ‘Biodiversity and applied zoology’ Knowledge Transfer Group of the University of Murcia, made up of scientists Juan Antonio Pujol, Raquel López and Nicolás Ubero.
“When we received the photographs and videos, we already knew that we were facing an exceptional event: the first time that there was evidence of the arrival of the always spectacular blue sea dragons on the Mediterranean coast of the Iberian Peninsula,” these three researchers report. in an interview with the magazine quercuyes.
Thus, it is the first time in history that the presence of this mysterious mollusk in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea has been recorded. The six blue dragons were found alive in these sandpits. However, within a few hours they died. “In addition to transmitting the appropriate suggestions to both lifeguard services in case more specimens appeared, we tried to find out if they had also reached the other two neighboring municipalities: Pilar de la Horadada and Guardamar del Segura. The answer was negative. However, a a year later, luck allowed us to expand the data”, they stated in the article in question.
This mysterious mollusk, new to our marine environment, normally inhabits the ocean and more temperate waters, especially the waters of those tropical and equatorial regions, as well as those of South Africa, Australia and, to a lesser extent, some of Europe. Blue dragons, as their name suggests, are characterized by a blue and silver toned appearance and the six branched limbs they have.
But you have to be careful, it is not a harmless sea creature. The blue dragon’s sting is venomous since its extremities include stinging toxins that come from the jellyfish it eats. Despite this, its bite does not represent a particularly dangerous risk. The symptoms suffered by a person who has been bitten by one of these rare specimens do not go beyond itching, stinging, swelling and redness of the area. In rarer cases, the bite can cause vomiting, general malaise, or an acute allergy, depending on the state of health of the blue dragon bite victims.