February 19, 2008
From: Ute Duvenhage
We have a sea fish tank at home and enjoy watching all the species in there.
Today we saw something strange on our sea hare (we call it Shrek !). It is a strange long thing (like a tentacle) on the head (front of the sea hare). It does not seem to bother him, because he still moves around. At the end of this tentacle thing is a white piece, still attached to the tentacle. To me it nearly looks like the fetus of something (similar features). See attached photo.
We would appreciate it if you could explain to us what that is !
Thank you !
firstname.lastname@example.orgDuvenhage, U, 2008 (Feb 19) Strange phenomenon with Sea Hare. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21225
The strange spiral 'thing' is its penis. Usually it is sitting in a sac inside the body and is only everted like this when it is about to mate. Unfortunately they sometimes do this when they are 'sick'. I hope in the time it has taken me to answer your message it has recovered rather than died.
If you look carefully at your photo just where the penis attached to the side of the head you should be able to see a line running diagonally up to just below the rhight rhinophore or head tentacle. This is the sperm grrove which carries sperm from the reproductive opening at the front of the mantle cavity forward to the penis. You will see a better picture on the Sea Hare head Fact Sheet.
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