This sea slug scared many people when it first met. They have an incredible appearance. They are often found near the shore when spawning.
On our planet there are many large species of sea slugs, far more than their land cousins, but this species of sea slug is unusually large. You could even say that they are as big and heavy as a medium sized dog.
Aplysia vaccaria is a very rare species of sea slug which, even if you live close to its habitat, off California and the Gulf of California, are rarely seen. In fact, sea slugs are most often encountered when they go into shallow water to lay eggs.
Like most other sea slugs, these giant mollusks are vegetarians, with brown algae and kelp making up a large part of their diet. There is another fact that the color of the plants they eat determines the color they have and that is also why they are dark brown or black, whereas other members of the Aplysia family are. are both red or green.
In addition to their supermassive size, the California Black Sea Rabbit (they are so called because they have two protruding parts that resemble rabbit ears) are known for their interesting defense mechanisms. While its other parents are known to secrete an ink that confuses predators and anorexia, Aplysia vaccaria is not able to produce these substances. However, research has shown that this “weakness” is an evolutionary consequence of an even more advanced form of defense.
Aplysia vaccaria is able to produce toxins from the compounds they get from the foods they eat, so the diet determines the type of toxins they produce. By eating brown algae, they will produce acetoxycrenulide toxin – this toxin accumulates in tissues, acetoxycrenulide is quite toxic to fish species, so it can prevent predation of species. fish efficiently.
But the high levels of acetoxycrenulide pose no danger to humans, a fact proven by YouTuber and TV host Coyote Peterson a few years ago, when he caught a medium-sized sea slug Aplysia vaccaria and picked up some. it was on hand for a few minutes without any problem.