Nudibranch? from North Carolina Coast.

September 3, 2001
From: Andrea

My family and I were visiting Hatteras Island, North Carolina, USA and came across a very unusual looking creature. Now, understand please that the majority of the family are all teenagers and found that this unusual creature resembled the infamous Mr. Hanky from South Park, but it appeared to be alive. I've never seen anything like it in my life. As my friend held this thing in her hand, it moved slowly and changed shaped, changing from an egg like round mass to a flattened circle, an elongated pear shape, and then bent like a half circle around her finger and then it seemed to tighten up a small ball like shape on one end. Very strange.It appeared to have an orifice on either end. It was a dark brown color, and had a rough surface, but no apparent gills or fins of any sort. We found it sitting at the water's edge as we walked along the beach.

Well, of course I was curious and began to search the web to see what this strange thing was. The closest thing I've found are some of the varieties of Nudibranchs. But there are so many different species, and there don't seem to be groupings of Nudibranches common to the Middle to Southern Atlantic Coast. Can you help point us in the right direction here. Do you think what we saw was a Nudibranch. Can you tell me species of Nudibranchs that we might be common in the North Carolina area?

Andrea, 2001 (Sep 3) Nudibranch? from North Carolina Coast. . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Andrea,
I'm afraid you don't give me much to go on. Even some idea of its size would be valuable. If it is a sea slug one possibility is a Sea Hare. There is a general page on Sea Hares in the Forum with links to more specific pages. Have at look at some of those to see if your animal was at all similar. A clue to Sea Hares is that they can exude a red or purple ink when disturbed. From your description it looks like you examined the animal out of water. If so it is often difficult to see their real shape.

Concerning sources of information about the sea slugs of the Atlantic Coast of the USA, I'm afraid they are not very comprehensive. There is a book by Sherman Bleakney on Canada and the Gulf of Maine, but that's about it until you get to the Caribbean. If you could provide a rough sketch or any other clues someone migth recognise your mystery.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

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