PHUKET: The Department of Marine and Coastal Resources has warned beachgoers of venomous ‘blue dragon’ sea slugs washing ashore at Phuket beaches.
The warning, posted last night (Aug 31), followed reports by local marine environmental group Monsoon Garbage and renowned Thai environmentalist Dr Thon Thamrongnawasawat, a lecturer with the Faculty of Fisheries at Kasetsart University.
The ‘blue dragon’ sea slugs were found washed ashore at Karon Beach. Officers from the DMCR’s Research Center of the Upper Andaman Sea arrived to confirm the species as Glaucus atlanticus, a type of nudibranch.
The specimens of Glaucus atlanticus found washed ashore at Karon were Blue glaucus.
Although no people at the beach had been stung by the sea creatures, which grow to four to six centimetres long, the officers urged people to not touch them.
The sea slug stores stinging nematocysts from the siphonophores within its own tissues as defence against predators. Humans handling the slug may receive a very painful and potentially dangerous sting, the officers warned.
Lifeguards were asked to keep an eye out for more blue dragons washing ashore and to warn people at the beach.
In his post, Dr Thon said the sea slugs, which float upside down by using the surface tension to stay afloat, were most likely blown ashore by the prevailing southwest monsoon.
The DMCR reported that officers along the coast have been informed of the arrival of the blue dragons and were to continue to monitor the situation.