TikToker's Viral Encounter With 'Pokémon' Turns out to Be Venomous Sea Slug

A man at a beach in Queensland, Australia, came across a tiny aquatic creature that turned out to be a venomous sea slug.

A TikTok posted to @julianobayd's account was viewed more than 18 million times, and it shows the bright blue critter perched on Abdul Obeid's fingertip.

"Anyone know what this is?" the text over the video read.

Some were unsure of what they were seeing, and others joked about what the blue sea creature resembled.

"Something from avatar," one commenter suggested.

Another said it looked like a fish from the popular video game series Animal Crossing.

One particular guess was littered throughout the comments section.

"It's obviously a Pokémon," a TikTok viewer joked, with many others writing similar comments.

But what the TikToker came across was a blue glaucus, whose scientific name is glaucus atlanticus. This sea slug is known by other names, including the blue dragon, sea swallow or blue angel.

"I have never seen one but they are beautiful," a commenter wrote under @julianobayd's video. "I looked them up and they are dangerous."

Although Obeid asked viewers to help identify the creature, he told Newsweek that he is familiar with marine life and knew what he was handling. He said while this was the first time he saw the "blue angel" in person, he was not stung by it.

"I knew as long as I didn't make direct contact with the little bugger I wouldn't get hurt," he said. "You'll notice in the video there's a film of sand between me and the little guy."

The TikToker said he "played dumb" in the video in an effort to gain traction but didn't expect the video to go viral.

"It's a beautiful creature, truly intriguing," he said.

Queensland Beach
A TikTok showing a vibrant blue sea slug in Australia received more than 18 million views. Above, a beach in Gold Coast, Australia. Chris Hyde/Getty Images

According to Oceana, the tiny sea slug, measuring up to 1.2 inches long, is found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans, preferring tropical waters. It floats on its backside and its striking blue color allows it to blend into the ocean waves above. The slug's backside is gray, and is difficult for predators to see it from below.

Although the blue glaucus is not venomous alone, it stores stinging cells from its preferred prey, the Portuguese man o' war. If the slug feels threatened or is touched, it can release the cells to deliver a sting, which may be more potent than what the Portuguese man o' war is capable of delivering.

Australia's ABC News reported in February that a "fleet" of the creatures washed up on the East Coast.

Lawrence Scheele, a marine biology student at the time of the outlet's publication, tracked the slugs and said they caught a ride on strong northeasterly winds.

Updated 12/13/2021, 5:38 p.m. ET: This story has been updated with a comment from Abdul Obeid and a verified video of the incident.

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts