Spotted sea hare

Aplysia dactylomela

''Aplysia dactylomela'', common name the "spotted sea hare", is a species of large sea slug, a marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusc in the family Aplysiidae, the sea hares.
Large Seahare This seahare was put on display by a guide, but I kindly refused to hold it. I prefer it to be kept in peace, not to mention I don't like holding slimy things I don't know.  Aplysia dactylomela,Brazil,Geotagged,Praia de Forte,Snail,Spotted sea hare

Appearance

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 maximum recorded length is 410 mm.

Distribution

As traditionally defined, this species of sea hare was cosmopolitan, being found in almost all tropical and warm temperate seas, including the Mediterranean Sea where first seen in 2002 and likely self-established due to increasing temperatures.

Based on genetic evidence, the population from the Indo-Pacific region is now recognized as a separate species, ''A. argus''. This restricts the true ''A. dactylomela'' to the Atlantic Ocean region, including the Caribbean and Mediterranean. The appearance of the two species is very similar, although ''A. argus'' is more variable in colour and pattern.

Behavior

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.

Habitat

''Aplysia dactylomela'' is commonly found in shallow waters, tide pools and rocky and sandy substrates, they also will be found feeding in beds of sea grass. During the day they will mostly hide under large rocks and in crevices. They usually stay in relatively shallow water, but they have been found as deep as 40 m.

Minimum recorded depth is 0 m. Maximum recorded depth is 3 m.

Defense

Like the octopus, 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.

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionMollusca
ClassGastropoda
OrderAplysiida
FamilyAplysiidae
GenusAplysia
SpeciesA. dactylomela
Photographed in
Brazil