Azure As The Sun Shines: 10 Amazing Blue Animals
Do animals get the blues? I azure you they do! Whether big or small, on land or in the sea, an elite selection of Earth’s animals have chosen the blue end of the spectrum as their way to be made in the shade.
Damselflies, which are similar to but smaller than dragonflies, are found in a large number of colors though blue seems to be the most common. Not just any ho-hum blue, mind you, but rich, vibrant azure hues ranging from deep cobalt through jewel-like turquoise.
(image via: Panoramio/DavidCMC58)
The species Enallagma cyathigerum, or the Common Blue Damselfly is said to be “the bluest of the damselflies.” Found across the UK and most of Europe, the Common Blue Damselfly is a favorite subject for wildlife photographers – looking at these images it’s no wonder why.
(image via: 7 Photography Questions)
Morpho Butterflies can be found in central and South America, and although not all Morpho Butterflies are blue, those that are have attracted humankind’s attention from prehistoric times.
Surprisingly, the wings of blue Morphos are not “blue” in the true sense, they’re iridescent: the upper surfaces are covered in clear crystalline scales that refract light, forming an interference pattern that our eyes and brains interpret as the color blue.
(image via: MyOpera/CD6KT1)
Many people have been introduced to the beauty and wonder of the Blue Morpho by the 2004 film The Blue Butterfly, which stars Marc Donato and William Hurt. The plot concerns a terminally ill boy played by Donato whose last wish is to see a Blue Morpho butterfly in its home environment.
(image via: Lobster Delicious)
It’s been reported that blue lobsters are one in a million. That’s not true – the rare genetic mutation of the American Lobster appears in just one out of TWO million crustaceans. It also makes them look WAY cool!
Affected lobsters to produce an overabundance of a certain protein that reacts to form crustacyanin, expressed in the lobsters shell as a vivid blue tint. This doesn’t help the lobster much – contrasting with your surroundings makes it easier for predators to find and eat you.
(image via: S/V Maitreya)
Though not the rarest of known lobster color mutations, blue lobsters are definitely the most striking. It’s worth knowing that the blue protein is only visible in the shell, not the meat, and blue lobsters are completely safe to eat. Keep in mind, though, that cooking destroys the protein making a cooked blue lobster indistinguishable from one of its non-mutated brethren.
Exotic and deadly, the Blue-ringed Octopus takes fatal attraction to an entirely new level. This small, shy octopus is found in coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean and uses its paralyzing venom to subdue the small fish and shrimp which are its usual prey. Like many squids and octopi, the Blue-ringed Octopus has chromatophores in its skin that become much more vivid when the creature is alarmed or excited – and you’d better not be the cause!
(image via: Animal Danger)
Blue-ringed Octopus venom is a potent neurotoxin similar to the one found in Cone Snails and Puffer Fish. One Blue-ringed Octopus carries enough venom to kill 26 humans in minutes – and there is no known antidote. Most octopus bites are inconspicuous and painless, the effects are horrifying: victims suffer muscle paralysis and cannot breathe but are otherwise unaffected, meaning someone who may look dead could be fully conscious and all too aware they are about to die.
Blue Ribbon Eel
Now this is one elite eel. Full-grown adults are over a yard long and can live up to 20 years: not just a blue ribbon winner among eels, but a Blue Ribbon Eel itself! This relative of the famed and feared Moray Eel is a popular aquarium fish for advanced hobbyists owning very large salt-water tanks.
(image via: David Fleetham & Mira.com)
Blue Ribbon Eels are brightly colored in rich blue with contrasting yellow trim – which seems odd for a creature that spends most of its time hiding in a seafloor lair or, if captive, in a provided piece of PVC piping. Those wanting to add a Blue Ribbon Eel to their marine menagerie should be aware that they are difficult pets to maintain for extended periods of time.
Blue Arrow Poison Frog
(image via: MasterTaker)
Also known as the Blue Poison Dart Frog, this small, beautiful and occasionally deadly amphibian remained unknown to science until 1968 when several specimens were brought back from the Amazon.
The frog is one of a number of species utilized by native South American tribes for the powerful toxins stored in its brilliantly blue skin. It is thought that the frogs coloration acts as a warning to potential predators: eat me and die!
(image via: Hubpages)
The Blue Arrow Poison Frog comes by its poison through its diet of small, often venomous insects. Instead of metabolizing toxins in its diet, the frog instead safely stores them in its skin. Blue Arrow Poison Frogs raised in captivity on a keeper-chosen diet do not ingest these types of alkaloid compounds and are thus non-poisonous.
One of the largest of all fish and striking in appearance, the Blue Marlin displays blue pigments on its upper (dorsal) side to help camouflage it from smaller prey swimming above it. Blue Marlin females are usually heavier than males – sometimes MUCH heavier: the largest females can weight up to 4,000 pounds (1,800 kg) and run 13 feet (over 4 meters) from bill-tip to tail fin.
(image via: Maui Sportfishing Charters)
A legendary fighter when hooked by rod & reel, the Blue Marlin leaped to fame with the 1952 publication of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Today, the Atlantic and Caribbean “billfish” industry employs thousands of workers directly and indirectly, with hundreds of companies seeking to exploit shrinking numbers of Blue Marlin and other large billfish.
The Hyacinth Macaw ((Anodorhynchus hyacinthinus)) can be found in forested areas of central and eastern South America. This majestic creature is the world’s largest flying parrot and can grow up to 39 inches (100 cm) long with a 56 inch (140 cm) wingspan. Almost completely blue, Hyacinth Macaws also feature black feathers under their wings and small contrasting areas of bright yellow around their eyes and along the sides of their massive lower beaks.
(image via: Mickey Mumu)
Hyacinth Macaws can live as long as 60 years and need a varied diet of assorted fresh nuts and seeds, which they expertly shell with their powerful beaks – powerful enough to snap welds in metal cages. Costing upwards of $8,000 each, these beautiful blue birds are not cheap but they are still in great demand from pet stores, enough so that the wild population is continually under pressure from hunters.
Occasionally reported but never officially documented, the Blue or “Maltese” Tiger is said to be an exceedingly rare mutation of the South Chinese or Amur Tiger – themselves critically endangered.
Sometimes called Maltese Tigers after silver-gray cats found on the island of Malta, Blue Tigers display striped fur in white, black and misty gray, or at least they do in these artist’s conceptions.
(image via: Wikipedia)
“The markings of the beast are strikingly beautiful. The ground color is of a delicate shade of maltese, changing into light gray-blue on the underparts. The stripes are well defined and like those of the ordinary yellow tiger.” So wrote American missionary and big game hunter Harry Caldwell after supposedly witnessing a Blue Tiger near the city of Fuzhou, China. Caldwell discusses his search for the legendary feline in his 1924 book, Blue Tiger.
Dinosaurs? Pshaw… the mighty Blue Whale is the largest animal to have ever lived – by far! Adults can grow up to 108 ft (33m) long and weigh as much as 180 metric tons (200 short tons), sometimes more. And, they’re really blue… well, shades of bluish gray to be exact. Once critically endangered, Blue Whales today number as many as 12,000. That may seem like a lot but before the advent of organized whaling in the 19th century it’s thought that the world’s oceans supported up to 240,000 – twenty times the number living today.
(image via: AMNH)
Any discussion of the Blue Whale’s attributes and characteristics will be peppered with superlatives. Here are just a few: a Blue Whale’s tongue can weigh up to 2.7 metric tons and its heart, served by an aorta 9.1 inches (23 cm) wide, can weigh as much as 1,300 lbs or 600 kilograms. Newborn Blue Whale calves weigh on average 6,000 pounds (2,700 kg) and will gain 200 pounds (90 kg) every 24 hours. Try burping that big boy!
Bonus Blue Animal: The Blue Man
A blue man? Yes indeed, and we don’t mean the members of Blue Man Group. 59-year-old Paul Karason doesn’t paint himself blue for public performances, nor can he wash off his tint – his blue hue is skin deep, and it’s been that way for over 15 years. That’s him above, top left, while he was still in the pink. Blue skin can result from a number of causes and medical conditions but for Karason, the effect manifested itself gradually after he began drinking colloidal silver in solution as a health tonic – he may be blue but he’s otherwise fit as a fiddle. Here’s a 2007 video of Karason being interviewed by CNN:
Paul Karason certainly stands out in a crowd, though his bluish-purple skin tone is far from the bright, brilliant blue make-up sported by Blue Man Group. Curious, though, that he seems to enjoy dressing in shades of blue to complement his now natural blue skin.
So, still think singin’ the blues means feeling depressed? These amazing animals are anything but down, except perhaps when it comes to population density. That IS indeed something to be sad about but at the same time, their natural beauty compels us to preserve and protect these creatures so that future generations can appreciate them anew.