Spotted sea hare, Aplysia dactylomela
At the end of my dock is a shallow beach. I check it constantly for new arrivals. This ones a spotted sea hare.
Aplysia dactylomela, common name the "spotted sea hare", is a species of large sea slug. The colour of the spotted sea hare is very variable, from pale gray to green, to dark brown. There are almost always large black rings on the mantle.
The Aplsia dactylomela is capable of swimming and crawling. It accomplishes the former by creating a funnel using the parapodia folded forward and downwards; this action pulls in water. It then pushes the water out from behind the animal by pressing the anterior parts of the parapodia together, thus forward motion is achieved.
The sea hare's usual mode of propulsion is crawling; it crawls by lifting the front end of the foot, stretching it forward then placing it on the ground in front, creating an arching pattern; the remainder of the body follows this arching pattern until the tail is reached.
The Aplysia dactylomela squirts purple ink if it is disturbed; this ink is an irritant that causes 'altered behaviour' in other invertebrates and fish. Their leathery skin contains toxins which make this sea hare practically inedible to most predators.
Photograph by Richard Alexander Oldfield
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