Spotted sea hare is a species of large herbivorous sea slug, scientifically named Aplysia dactylomela. Its native habitat are tropical and moderately warm seas, but not the Mediterranean. First record of the spotted sea hare was in 2002 in the area of Lampedusa, and up to today it has been found around the coasts of Sicily, Calabria, gulf of Taranto, Cyprus, Turkey, Israel and Greece.
The first record in the Adriatic was in 2006 near the islet of Sušac, and afterwards near the island of Mljet. From 2012 it is found more and more often in the areas of south and central Adriatic.
The most recognizable characteristic of the spotted sea hare are black rings on the body by which it is easily distinguished from the other sea hares.
Like all sea hares, it has four tentacles on the head. The shell is rudimentary and not visible. The biggest specimens are around 40 cm big. Body color is very variable, from light green to dark brown, but mostly they are lightly brown. Whole body surface is covered in black rings and lines.
The spotted sea hare is commonly staying near the sea surface down to 2 meters of depth where it is grazing on algae. In between the algae, the sea slugs are laying egg clusters in the shape of a tied rope, from which the planktonic larvae emerge. The planktonic larvae can spend up to a month drifting in the marine currents, before they settle on the sea bottom and transform into an adult sea slug. To get a clear image of the spread of the spotted sea hare, we are calling all the sea enthusiasts who have seen this easily-recognizable sea hare to let us know about their finding.
Useful informations are:
- Where has the spotted sea hare been found?When has it been found?
- At which depth and at what type of bottom (sandy, rocky, etc.) have you seen him?
- Abundance?(only one or several specimens?
- Photograph (great if exists!)
- Let us know the data on: firstname.lastname@example.org