This Insane ‘Blue Dragon’ Pokemon-Wannabe Sea Slug Packs a Powerful Sting

KS Strange ScienceAustralia is home to some pretty gnarly creatures, but I’ve never seen one quite this unsettling. Don’t get me wrong, this alien-like sea slug is oddly beautiful – it just gives me chills. Glaucus atlanticus, more commonly known as the “blue dragon,” made headlines this week after washing ashore in Australia.

Blue Dragon
IMAGE: SYLKE ROHRLACH/FLICKR

Blue dragon sightings are rare, but they have been known to wash ashore while hunting for prey. The blue dragon is so badass it feeds on the Portuguese man o’ war. MAN O’ WAR! Man o’ war are incredibly poisonous. And, despite popular belief, they are not jellyfish! They are siphonophores; animals made up of a colony of organisms working together.

Their tentacles are one of four organisms, covered in venom-filled nematocysts that they use to paralyze and kill fish. For humans? The man-of-war sting is unbelievably painful, but not often deadly. Blue dragons actually snack on the man o’ war’s toxic stingers. They store the poisons within their own bodies and gain the ability to sting like crazy. Ouch!

The blue dragon is tiny, spending most of its time upside down in the water, riding the surface tension of the water’s surface. But, don’t let its small size fool you – it clearly packs a potent poisonous punch.

The video below was uploaded to Facebook on November 12 by Lucinda Fry, and it already has over 200,000 views! Warning: it’s super creepy. You won’t be able to look away.

This Insane ‘Blue Dragon’ Pokemon-Wannabe Sea Slug Packs a Powerful Sting

NOAA Discovers Terrifying Deep-Sea Creatures After Exploring the Waters Off Puerto Rico

KS_LOGOs2_UnderwaterI have to admit, I’m a bit terrified of deep sea creatures. I mean, 95% of the ocean floor remains unexplored. That is A LOT of room for giant squid to roam. Lucky for me, NOAA decided to explore the waters off of Puerto Rico in search of the deep sea life that haunts my dreams.

From April 9 to April 30, 2015, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer explored largely uncharted deep-sea ecosystems and seafloor in the vicinity of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. What they found – using state of the art technology – will amaze you!

Quartz posted this incredible video to their Facebook page, using footage gathered from NOAA. Some of these creatures are so new – they don’t even have names.

Océano Profundo 2015

Legs 1 and 2 of the mission focused on mapping the seafloor where primarily only low-resolution satellite or topographic data existed previously. Leg 3 of the expedition featured some of the deepest remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives ever conducted in the region and collected critical deep-water environmental data that will improve ecosystem understanding and inform federal and local resource managers.

Why Puerto Rico?

According to NOAA, a diversity of seafloor features lie just offshore Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that include trenches, seamounts, numerous submarine canyons, valleys, and troughs. These features likely contain valuable and vulnerable ocean resources, but very little is known about them, making this an important area to survey.

It is crucial to explore this area for several reasons:

  • It is tectonically active, with seismic hazards
  • It includes a large section of U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone
  • One of the major fisheries in the area is deepwater snapper, but little is known about snapper populations there
  • It is of potential interest for marine protected area managers, those creating ocean usage planning maps, and sanctuary managers
Mission map showing the operating areas, with priority areas outlined in black, for Leg 3 of OcĂ©ano Profundo 2015: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs. Map created with ESRI ArcMap software and data displayed is provided by ESRI, Delorme, GEBCO, USGS, NOAA NGDC, and other contributors. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.
Mission map showing the operating areas, with priority areas outlined in black, for Leg 3 of OcĂ©ano Profundo 2015: Exploring Puerto Rico’s Seamounts, Trenches, and Troughs. Map created with ESRI ArcMap software and data displayed is provided by ESRI, Delorme, GEBCO, USGS, NOAA NGDC, and other contributors. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

Communication Technology

NOAA did a fantastic job of documenting their journey, allowing scientists and the public access to mission logs, daily reports, photos, video, and live underwater video feeds.

During the dives, Okeanos Explorer’s two-body ROV system continuously captured high-definition video, which the ship transmitted to the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research’s website, www.oceanexplorer.noaa.gov, where anyone could follow along in near-real time!

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer uses telepresence technology to transmit data in real-time to a shore-based hub where the video is then transmitted to a number of Exploration Command Centers located around the country as well as to any internet enabled device. Access to the video and a suite of Internet-based collaboration tools allow scientists on shore to join the operation in real-time and allows the general public to follow along with the expedition. Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.
NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer uses telepresence technology to transmit data in real-time to a shore-based hub where the video is then transmitted to a number of Exploration Command Centers located around the country as well as to any internet enabled device. Access to the video and a suite of Internet-based collaboration tools allow scientists on shore to join the operation in real-time and allows the general public to follow along with the expedition. Image courtesy of the NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

Okeanos Explorer

NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer, “America’s Ship for Ocean Exploration,” is the only federally funded U.S. ship assigned to systematically explore our largely unknown ocean for the purpose of discovery and the advancement of knowledge. Telepresence, using real-time broadband satellite communications, connects the ship and its discoveries live with audiences ashore. Visit the NOAA Marine Operations Center Okeanos Explorer page for operations and crew information 🙂

Video