Sea Creature with Tubular Eyes Baffles Locals in Sydney
The discovery of a peculiar sea creature with tubular eyes has left biologists, academics, and social media users puzzled. A resident of The Sutherland Shire posted on Facebook, “Does anyone know what this is? Have seen a number of these washed up this week.” Another local encountered similar creatures while walking her dog along the sands of Cronulla’s Darook Beach.
Despite the eerie appearance of the creatures, they are not extraterrestrial. According to Harry Masefield, an Aquarist at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, they are sea hares, also known as sea slugs. These dark purple or green-colored creatures can grow to be as large as a football and emit a purple dye that can be dangerous to pets.
The sea creatures, which resemble slugs, have a one-year life cycle and often wash up on the shore after death. Laetitia Hannan, an aquarist at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, identified the species as Aplysia sydneyensis, a local Sydney species. She mentioned that these creatures camouflage themselves as rocks to avoid predators.
Despite their toxicity when consumed, sea hares are mostly harmless and only pose a threat to dogs if ingested. Professor Culum Brown of Macquarie University explained that their toxicity comes from the algae they graze on. While humans typically don’t eat them, dogs may be at risk if they consume the creatures, especially if the hares have been feeding on specific types of algae.