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July 11, 2011 | by  | in Opinion |
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Animal Of The Week – The Blue Dragon

Welcome back Salientologists. The Animal of the Week this week is the Blue Dragon nudibranch, Glaucus atlanticus. Nudibranchs are commonly referred to as sea slugs but they are actually a form of snail that lose their shells early in development.

Before we move onto why the G. atlanticus is so badass, an honourable mention must go out to Pteraeolidia ianthina. This is another species of Blue Dragon nudibranch which is in fact solar-powered. These nudibranchs incorporate zoozanthellae, or microscopic plants, into their bodies. This provides these Blue Dragons with their intense blue colouring as well sugars due to photosynthesis. This means P. ianthina needs only sunlight, rather than a true food source.

Back to the real Blue Dragon. The beautiful patterns and colouration of the G. Atlanticus acts as a form of camouflage while these animals feed. Their favourite food is the highly poisonous Man-of-War Jellyfish. The Blue Dragons attach to the underside of the jellyfish, targeting their toxic nematocysts. In doing so, the Blue Dragons collect and concentrate the poison of the jellyfish, providing the nudibranchs with a highly toxic defence. There have been reports of Australian children contracting serious injuries during “Blue Bottle Jellyfish fights” due to Blue Dragons being inconspicuously attached to the jellyfish. Any animal which can subdue Australian children through sneak-attack is a winner in my eyes. *

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  1. Deandra says:

    Thanks for contributing. It’s helped me udnerstnad the issues.

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