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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Starr

Meet one of the most beautiful slugs of the sea, The Mottled Sea Hare.

Updated: Jul 7, 2022

Another week of more land than sea because the winds have continued to blow and it’s really a bit crazy. This last week I was able to get out on a few adventures and see a few spectacular things. One tour we got to see an eagle ray breach the water and a shark, and another we got to see a manatee and mottled sea hare. I have never been able to capture an eagle ray on camera, and honestly a majority of what I our guest experience is not caught on camera. What I did get to capture this week was mottled sea hare, and they are one of the most beautiful creatures to watch swim.

Aplysia brasiliana the mottled sea hare belongs in the gastropada mullusk class, a group that I frequently refer to. This class includes whelks, conchs and more than 65,000 other species This beaty just happens to not have an outer shell and be one of the most captivating animals to watch swim. The mottle sea hare is truly one of the most beautiful slugs to ever exist, I know I personally have not found many slugs I think are memorizing to watch, these guys absolutely capture my attention. Some fun facts are

~ Sea hares have chemosensory organs called as rhinophores on the upper surface of their heads that are used for smell and taste. As you can see from this picture, they look like bunny ears and its where they get their name from.

~ they lack outer shells but have an internal shell that lies fully or partially within the mantle (a flap on the back that covers the gills and other internal organs). This very reduced mantle cavity is enveloped in a pair of large fleshy protrusions called parapodial lobes, which allow some to swim or glide through the water.

~ They are herbivores and eat spend their time swimming along eating all the algae they can

~ Mottled sea hares are also a fairly large species growing up to 10.5 inches long.

~ Color varies from light brown to dark red-brown or red-purple, lighter color mottling on head, to beautiful black like this one.

~ They are both male and female and can lay up to 500 million eggs per breading season.

We can’t leave out one of the coolest facts about these magical creatures, INK! They excrete a purple ink as a defense mechanism. The ink is purple due to all the red algae they eat and was used by indigenous people to dye clothing.

Now if this wind could die down and I could spend lots more time on the water Ill find many more critters to tell you stories about!

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