There are many different sea slugs in the seas around Harris. Although in many cases brightly coloured, most are very small and easily overlooked. Most sea slugs are carnivorous (ie eat other animals) and graze on the animals that are fixed in place and unable to escape. In some species the bright colour simply matches the animal they feed on, for instance the bright orange sea slug that feeds on dead mens fingers, but some use bright colours as a warning to other animals that they are in fact distasteful or poisonous.
Sea Hares are one of the largest and commonest sea slugs you are likely to find. Coloured grey or purple, they are often found in considerable numbers crawling around on kelp plants or amongst other seaweeds in shallow water. They are easily recognised by the 2 flaps on either side of the body, and have head tentacles just like the familiar land slugs and snails.
Sea Hare (Photo: Paul Tyler)
You can find these in rock pools at low tide. Sea hares are coloured red, green or brown.
Sea Slug: cristata (Photo: Paul Tyler)
The white-tipped appendages on the sea slug’s back are its gills. Sea slugs are also called nudibranchs, which means ‘naked gills’
Sea Slug: faroensis (Photo: Paul Tyler)
This beautiful sea slug has a smaller set of gills on its back. It is feeding on a bryozoan.
Sea Slug Eggs on Hydroid (Photo: Paul Tyler)
Sea slugs usually lay their eggs on or close to their favourite food. These sea slug eggs are attached to hydroids, which are also being eaten by sea spiders.
by Paul TylerNext Section