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‘Crazy looking' sea hares are common on the Texas coast, but this is why you rarely see them

Sea hares adapt to their surroundings, feed on algae

This sea hare was found in the Laguna Madre, according to TPWD. Image: TPWD
This sea hare was found in the Laguna Madre, according to TPWD. Image: TPWD (KSAT)

While they’re common in the Laguna Madre these “pretty cool” sea hares aren’t seen every day by beachgoers or anglers.

That’s because they look like piles of wet sand — except they’re jiggly, can crawl, and adapt to their surroundings to blend in.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife recently shared a video of a sea hare, or sea slug, found along in Nighthawk Bay in the upper Laguna Madre and asked if people would touch it.

“Stuff like this is why I stay indoors,” one person Tweeted while another said, “That is crazy looking!!”

There’s no doubt they’re “crazy looking,” but sea hares don’t cause harm.

Julie Hagen, a social media specialist with the Coastal Fisheries Division of TPWD, said sea hares are safe for anyone to touch, but they should be safely returned to the water.

There are a few species of sea hares that live in Texas waters, and they aren’t considered rare in the upper or lower Laguna Madre, which is popular for fishing.

“The reason we come across sea hares in our work is due to the type of sampling method we use (a bag seine),” she said. “I have received multiple videos and photos of sea hares from our biologists in the field over the years. Mostly, because they are pretty cool to look at!”

Because they eat algae, fishermen and women won’t catch them with a link and hook.

According to the Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, sea hares stick to calm, shallow waters with a large amount of algae.

Sea hares are hermaphrodites and have a male reproductive organ on the right side of the head and a female reproductive organ in the mantle cavity, the magazine states.

According to the magazine, species found in Texas waters are the Aplysia fasciata, the Aplysia morio and the Aplysia dactylomela.

The Aplysia fasciata, a mottled sea hare, can grow up to 10 inches long and spits purple ink like an octopus. The Aplysia dactylomela can grow up to 16 inches in length.

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