Re: Big Sea slug from Western Australia

March 11, 2009
From: Dawn Skinner

Concerning message #21482:

Hi Suzy,

We walk the same beach and I have been wondering what these creatures are for several years. It has such a strange almost calf liver appearance that contracts when water is put on it ... Finally got a clue through the Environment Centre. One of the marine volunteers looked at the photo and suggested Sea Hare.

There seems to be quite a few more of them than in other years. I found 3 in just one short morning walk recently. Barely a week has gone by over the past few months where I haven't come across at least one. Do you think the death rate has increased this summer?

Locality: Safety Bay, On shore, Western Australia, Indian Ocean, February and March 2009, Sandy Beach. Photographer: Dawn Skinner.

Dawn Skinner

Skinner, D. M., 2009 (Mar 11) Re: Big Sea slug from Western Australia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Dawn,

Your animal is certainly Aplysia gigantea. As you will see from looking at my comments on earlier messages concerning this species, mass strandings seem to be an annual occurrence for this species. In fact many species of Sea Hare around the world exhibit similar strandings which I discuss on separate Fact Sheet. What makes the strandings of A. gigantea particularly noticeable is its large size and its unfortunate ability to poison pet dogs.

It is interesting that you likened it to a calf's liver as a Californian correspondent likened one to a cow's liver [message #7091]. To continue the body parts comparison, another Californian, found what they thought was a heart and suspecting foul play, took it to their local Police Station. Not happy with the police identification of it as a sea slug they wrote to the Forum for assistance [message #2169 ].

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2009 (Mar 11). Comment on Re: Big Sea slug from Western Australia by Dawn Skinner. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Aplysia gigantea

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