Staff at Oregon Coast Aquarium discover large ‘sea hare’ in stor - KPTV - FOX 12

Staff at Oregon Coast Aquarium discover large ‘sea hare’ in storage tank

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The California sea hare (Oregon Coast Aquarium) The California sea hare (Oregon Coast Aquarium)
The California sea hare (Oregon Coast Aquarium) The California sea hare (Oregon Coast Aquarium)
NEWPORT, OR (KPTV) -

A large sea slug normally found off the coasts of California and northern Mexico was spotted in a storage tank being cleaned out recently by staff at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.

Historically, the California sea hare, or Aplysia californica, don’t travel this far north, with only a handful of records showing them in the area.

According to the staff at the aquarium, it was an intern who grew up in the area where the animal is normally found that made the identification.

 “I’m originally from Monterey [CA], where sea hares are a common sight in bays, estuaries and rocky intertidal areas,” Anna Welsh said. “But I was definitely surprised to see it here, outside of its range.”

Staff members think the sea hare could have been brought into the area when it was in a free-floating larval state, possibly in a fish hold or boat’s bilge. Against huge odds, the animal made it through the aquarium’s 6-millimeter intake pump filter and into a predator-free reservoir.

Scientists call the slug a “sea hare” because of the tapered sensory organs on its head that resemble the ears on a rabbit. The herbivore can grow to more than a foot long and weigh up to 5 pounds.

Researchers have found that sea hares have the largest neurons in the animal kingdom, and the creature is often used in neurobiological research.

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