Have you ever heard of benthic nudibranch animals? If not, continue reading because you are about to learn about one of them.
Benthic animals live at the lowest levels in a body of water. The benthic zone is the ecological region in the deepest parts of a body of water, such as an ocean, lake, or stream.
The blue glaucus is a benthic nudibranch, but unlike most, it can live at all depths of the ocean. It can hold air in its stomach, which helps it float. Being only three centimeters long, one would think the glaucus would be at a disadvantage, but it is actually dangerous due to the foods it eats. The blue glaucus feeds on the Portuguese man o’ war.
Portuguese man o’ war tentacles are thirty feet long, making it one of the biggest jellyfish species in the world. It is also the most dangerous, injuring thousands of human swimmers every year. But, this massive jellyfish is no match for a blue glaucus. When a glaucus eats one, its body stores the stinging parts of the tentacles for future use.
When attacked by a predator, the blue glaucus releases the stored stinging cells. The sting of a blue glaucus is actually more powerful than a man o’ war sting. This is because the glaucus stores more stinging cells then you typically find in a man o’ war tentacle.
Blue glaucuses are hermaphroditic, meaning the male and the female both produce eggs and sperm, but they can not fertilize their own eggs. This means they still must mate to have babies. When the eggs are fertilized, they spiral around freely until they find something to stick onto, such as a nearby carcass.
Blue glaucuses have many unique and beautiful characteristics, which makes it interesting to learn about this special creature.
[Sources: Oceana; National Geographic Kids]