Animal Species:Sea Hare

There are several sea hare species in the Sydney region. Sometimes reaching 20 cm, these large sea slugs may be difficult to spot at first as they are well camouflaged.

Sea Hare Aplysia dactylomela

Dr Isobel Bennett © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Sea Hare

Identification

Sea hares have a soft body, a small internal shell and large 'wings' or parapodia, which can be used for swimming. Once found they are easily identified by the black rings and black lines on their large olive-green body.

Size range

20 cm

Distribution

Sea hares are found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia.

Habitat

Sea hares live on intertidal rocky shores and in seagrass.

Feeding and Diet

Usually found in pools, sea hares are able to swim but prefer to glide over the rocks, feeding on algae with their rasping radula.

Other behaviours and adaptations

If threatened, sea hares release a purple dye that works as a smoke screen, enabling them to escape from predators.

The common name of sea hare refers to their large tentacles, which were thought to resemble the large ears of a hare.

Life cycle

Sea hares live for about a year and form long chains during mating. In late summer they release their egg masses as long, yellow, spaghetti-like strings.

Classification

Species:
dactylomela
Genus:
Aplysia
Family:
Aplysiidae
Suborder:
Aplysiomorpha
Order:
Opisthobranchia
Class:
Gastropoda
Phylum:
Mollusca
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

Further Reading

For more information on the Sea Hare and other sea slugs, visit the Seaslug Forum.


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Tags sea slugs, molluscs, opisthobranchs, invertebrates, identification, wildlife of sydney,