Mumbles of a Marine Biologist

Simple, UK Marine Species ID Guide (Click pictures below for posts)

Sea Hare – Aplysia punctata

If you ever happen across why you think is a giant ‘slug-like’ thing in a rockpool, well its probably this guy! Don’t be mistaken by the name, its nothing like its name-sake the land hare. I think is a pretty rubbish common name because its not fast, it can’t jump but apparently it looks like a sitting hare which was why it was called that, whoever named it I don’t think they got outside much? Anyway…

For anyone who doesn’t like slugs, my mother included, this is maybe not something you want to happen upon. But if it helps this isn’t actually a slug, its a snail its just decided to shrink its shell and hide it in its body where no one can see it. Basically this snail is a bit of a nudist.  This particular species can be pretty big can reaching up to 20cm, so when you find this large slimy lump it can be quite a surprise. But for anyone who is unnerved by a giant snail-slug, then don’t worry these are not to common, I’ve only seen them a few times, plus they really blend in well. But if you can get your eye in and want to go find them I highly recommend, the below photo was of one found near Dale Fort in Pembrokeshire,Wales.

Sea Hare found near Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

These browny/reddy dudes just slowly slump there way across rocky shore grazing and munching on seaweed, there in no rush…. Plus it helps that if a predator like a fish does come near you they can squirt a cloud of toxic/nasty tasting stuff at them to tell them not too politely to bugger off! Which is handy when you move at the speed of well… a slug and a snail. They have a very good since of smell that they use with there rhinophores (the two antennae) at the front of there body, its also one of the distinguish features of ID between the Aplasia spp. that you can find. I can’t even pretend to really know the difference between them but this is the most common on British shores so I though describing this one would be the best choice.

Oh one more thing you should know about this species, is that they like to form mating chains. Being hermpahrodites they CAN mate with any other member of their species, but thats no fun, why not all join up together and ACTUALLY  mate with every other member of your species…

On that note I think I’ll end the post…

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Happy Rockpooling!



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