Sea Slugs spawning?

March 11, 2004
From: Dave Lyons

Hi, today, 11 March 2004, I had the opportunity to go on a school excursion with my daughter to the mangrove sand flats (intertidal,low tide) in Mackay Queensland. We found a sea slug (black about 5 inches long and similar shape to a cucumber), it was semi buried in the sand under oyster covered rock. Upon examination the slug promptly gave birth?, to a mass of white worm like larvae?, these were attached by a short narrow cord to a bubble not unlike that of a bluebottle jellyfish except it(the bubble) being absoloutly clear.

It was definately an experience my daughter will never forget, (it happened in her hand, and was promptly returned to the water) I was suprised as i had assumed that sea slugs would lay eggs or larvae in a secluded crevice, not float them out to sea as the action implied, any info would be appreciated as i will forward it to the school.
Dave Lyons

Lyons, D., 2004 (Mar 11) Sea Slugs spawning?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Dave,
What you found was not a sea slug but a Sea Cucumber, also known as holothurians, which are closely related to sea urchins and starfish. Some of these animals when 'frightened' can shoot out all their internal organs, which include a whole set of sticky white tubes as your describe. The process is called evisceration. The idea is that whatever animal is causing the problem, such as a fish, will either concentrate on eating the bits that have been shot out, or be upset by the sticky mass and go away. Amazingly, in a few weeks the sea cucumber can grow a new set of internal organs.
Best wishes
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2004 (Mar 11). Comment on Sea Slugs spawning? by Dave Lyons . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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