MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

A sea hare (Aplysia punctata)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Researched byMarisa Sabatini Refereed byAdmin
Authority(Cuvier, 1803)
Other common names- Synonyms-

Summary

Description

Aplysia punctata is usually 7 cm long but can grow to 20 cm in length. The body is long and narrow and the parapodia join rather high posteriorly. At the front of the body the anterior tentacles are short, with rounded extensions to the mouth slit while the tentacles on the head (rhinophores) are long and slender. It produces both purple and white secretions when disturbed. The mantle has a large opening (foramen) through which the internal shell may be seen. The internal shell is around 4 cm in length and is transparent and pale amber in colour.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Recorded from various locations around the British Isles.

Global distribution

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Habitat

Aplysia punctata occurs mainly in very shallow water and occasionally on the lower shore or in rock pools.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Body colour variable ranging from olive, green, brown, red or purplish black.
  • Blotches of white and grey, often with black spots and black veining along its body.
  • Narrow pedal sole.
  • Rarely shows its circular metapodial sucker.
  • The penis is not black and is broad and spatulate with no spines.

Additional information

The body colour of Aplysia punctata is said to vary with the character of its algal diet. Therefore, juveniles that feed on red algae are red, whereas the adults, which are said to migrate on shore to breed are brownish or greenish in accordance with their diet (e.g. Ulva and Fucus). It is similar to Aplysia fasciata which is larger and can reach lengths of 40 cm, it is also dark brown or black in colour. The eggs are pink and laid in tangled threads.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:

NBN WoRMS

Bibliography

  1. Fish, J.D. & Fish, S., 1996. A student's guide to the seashore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  2. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  3. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  4. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  5. Thompson, T.E., 1976. Biology of Opisthobranch Molluscs, vol. 1. London: The Ray Society.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Sabatini, M. 2008. Aplysia punctata A sea hare. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/2017

Last Updated: 08/05/2008