VIDEO: Split Woman Films Unusual Sea Creature in Shallows of Kaštilac Beach

Lauren Simmonds

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An unusual sight was encountered by a Split woman Friday morning when walking along the shoreline of Kaštilac beach.

”A sea creature I’ve never seen before was swimming in immediate vicinity of the shoreline, and then stayed for a while along the coastal rocks. I’ve never seen anything like it,” the Split woman stated when describing her “close encounter” with a strange sea creature.

As Morski writes on the 27th of September, 2019, experts from Dalmacija Danas have since pointed out that what she saw was a species of ”mottled sea hare” (Aplysia fasciata), which can be observed relatively frequently throughout the Adriatic.

Aplysia fasciata is a hermaphrodite, which means that it has both male and female sexual organs, and interestingly, it has the ability to change its gender whenever it desires. This means that these organisms can be both male and female, during mating, only one takes on the role of the male and donates their sperm. Pero Ugarković, editor of website and associate of the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split, explained more about these interesting creatures.

”They are double-sexed, possessing both male and female reproductive organs. Larger specimens have a better role as females because they can produce more eggs. The smaller ones are better as the males.

But, there are rules, sea hares can decide whether to be a male, female or both, if they want. It grows to 40 cm in length and can weigh 1.5 kg. They can also often be seen swimming across the sea’s surface, using parapods for swimming. They’re more active at night. Although they’re very common in the Adriatic, especially along the coasts of where we live where there are many algae for them to feed on, for some reason, many people don’t recognise them, so I often get asked questions and asked figure out what kind of animal it is.

It’s also called the sea cow in some areas because it grazes on grass. In fact, this is a group name for all very similar species from the family Aplysiidae, of which there are eight present here in the Adriatic, of which two are newly arrived ocean species,” explains Ugarković.

Despite the fact that it adorns our underwater world, it is not eaten, so perhaps that’s why so few people know about it. Like most mollusks, it releases secretions for defense purposes, that is, it releases two secretions that it produces from two different glands, white and purple. The purple fluid has antiviral properties, and it’s interesting to note that the secretions of the new Adriatic species (Bursatella leachii) has proteins which attack the HIV virus.

The food they eat is full of the harmful ingredients that these snails accumulate, mostly in their skin, and it serves them as a good defense against invaders. Therefore, sea hares could also be used to measure the level of marine pollution,” explained Ugarković.

In any case, what the woman from Split saw is a species that causes astonishment to most people, but it is completely harmless.

Watch the video of the sea hare filmed near Split here:

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