Sea Hares by Sunset, Kayaking Elkhorn Slough
Last Night in Elkhorn Slough was magical. Winter low tide paddles are truly among our favorites as the colors explode across the eel grass. Next low tide paddle is January 7th, 2024 join us at www.bluewaterventures.org.
These massive sea slugs are simultaneous hermaphrodites that may form mating aggregations consisting of long daisy chains, complete roman circles or just a pile of mating madness!
Researchers have estimated that a large egg mass may contain over 75 million eggs that will hatch in less than two weeks. Most of the free swimming larval slugs will become someone else’s dinner before reaching adulthood, but surely a few sea hares will be found on our next low tide paddle.
Sea Hares ooze out a mildly toxic and vibrant purple dye, perhaps to startle predators or to provide any inky screen as they slink away. Most species find the sea hare hardly a delicacy as the chemicals that produce the ink are unpalatable. However, locally, the giant green sea anemone may consume sea hares by regurgitating any body parts that contain a toxic element….quite amazing!
I found my first sea hare washed ashore in the summer of 1969. We had just moved from the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio to the sultry southlands of Florida’s Gulf Coast. I was longing to be back in Ohio, stuffing earth worms into my pockets. My mother was a saint! However, Ohio was becoming a sweet memory while the rhythm of salty sea water was now pulsating through my veins and my life passions redirected. Last night, the joy of a ten year old returned as I shared the wonders of Aplysia californica to my attentive paddlers. It was an unforgettable night.