Re: Sea Hare poisoning

March 8, 2002
From: Cary Rogers

Hi Bill,
Regarding the message about Sea Hares poisoning dogs in Western Australia, there are cases reported in the literature from Japan of people sustaining severe liver damage after cooking and consuming Sea Hares eggstrings. On the other hand some Pacific Islanders eat sea hares (probably Dolabella auricularia) after first cleaning the animal by removing the internal organs. Algal compounds acquired by sea hares accumulate mostly in the digestive gland, so removing this organ would greatly reduce the concentration of toxins, although they also occur in the skin and mucous coating. Apart from acquired algal metabolites, some of which are quite nasty, there is some speculation that sea hares may also contain neurotoxins which resemble acetylcholine. The symptons of the affected dogs (respiratory failure) suggest that a neurotoxin may be responsible as algal compounds would probably cause nausea when ingested.

Rogers, C., 2002 (Mar 8) Re: Sea Hare poisoning. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Thanks Cary,
There are some messages on the Forum about Dolabella auricularia being eaten in the Pacific Islands and one message discussing poisoning in Fiji, but I hadn't come across the Japanese references. If you have any references they would be a valuable addition.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Mar 8). Comment on Re: Sea Hare poisoning by Cary Rogers. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Aplysia gigantea

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