Mottled sea hare

Aplysia fasciata

Family Aplysiidae - sea hares

Distinguishing
Characteristics
Gastropod, no outer shell; body globular, soft, bulky; color varies from light brown to dark red-brown or red-purple, lighter color mottling on head, neck and wings; head with 2 rounded oral tentacles; smaller rhinophores (tentacle-like sensory receptors) behind oral tentacles on neck; eyes in front of rhinophores, tiny, dark; wing-like flaps (called parapodia) on sides of body, attaching behind rhinophores and joined posteriorly; tail is short and rounded; has a flap (the mantle) on its back that covers its gills and internal organs; inside the mantle is a very thin, delicate internal shell that is narrow or wide, concave, light amber color, slightly hooked at apex; also inside the mantle is the ink gland, secretes purple ink.
Similar Species
Coloration and shape of the internal shell help distinguish different sea hares. This specimen, found beached, had lost most of its color but showed signs of mottling along the parapodia. The true sooty sea hare, A. morio, is uniformly dark brown to black. There is also a spotted sea hare, A. dactylomela, with spots and a ragged sea hare, Bursatella leachii, with soft extensions on its body.
Habitat
Gulf and bays, shallow, calm waters, wherever there is an abundance of algae
Maximum Size
27 cm (10 1/2 in)
Other Common Names
sooty sea hare
Previous Scientific Names
A. willcoxi, A. brasiliana
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