Sea Hare? from Stockton, New South Wales

November 28, 2002
From: Peter Ruxton

About a week ago at a period of very low tides it was noticed that a small black, grey, purple, brown, blue coloured creature as big as say a mans fist was noticed in large numbers in the Hunter River at Stockton [near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia]. Some had washed up and were lying on the sand, or swimming free in the water just like a Spanish Dancer and others just lying on the bottom. They all had protusions just like nudibranchs. On looking at these creatures I got the definate impression they were not jelly fish but nudibranchs and they had a slug like body.
What are they?
Peter Ruxton

Dear Peter,
It's a bit hard to be sure what you have seen without a photo or drawing or some idea of the shape of these animals. One possibility is a Sea Hare of some sort. Did any of them produce a red or purple ink? Have a look at the page on the Forum for Bursatella leachii. If you scroll down the page you'll find a message and photos from Coffs Harbour which show this animal quite well. Let me know if my guess is anywhere near the mark. Otherwise a photo or
drawing might give me a few more clues
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Nov 28). Comment on Sea Hare? from Stockton, New South Wales by Peter Ruxton. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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