Aplysia depilans

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Aplysia depilans
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Heterobranchia
clade Euthyneura
clade Euopisthobranchia
clade Aplysiomorpha
Superfamily: Aplysioidea
Family: Aplysiidae
Genus: Aplysia
Species: A. depilans
Binomial name
Aplysia depilans
Gmelin, 1791

Aplysia depilans, the "depilatory sea hare", is a species of sea hare or sea slug, a marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusk in the family Aplysiidae. Its common name refers to the belief of fishermen that it caused hair loss. It was also erroneously said to have been the source of poison that was used to assassinate the Roman Emperor Titus.


This sea hare occurs in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean. It can be found mostly in shallow water of about 1.5 to 10 m. It avoids the intertidal zone because the animals cannot absorb atmospheric oxygen and so die after stranding relatively quickly. Occasionally some are trapped in tide pools at low tide.


Individuals can grow up to 40 cm long and weighs up to 380 g. Their skin is dark brown to reddish brown, with white to light brown blotches. It has a yellow inner shell that is thinner, flatter and more poorly calcified than other sea hares and measures about 1.5 cm long.


When threatened they emit a white or purple ink. Aplysia depilans are one of the seven species of the genus which are known to swim occasionally rather than crawl. Although hermaphrodites, they cannot self-fertilize and require a partner.


The adults feed primarily on algae of the genus Ulva, especially sea lettuce Ulva lactuca. During the planktonic phase of life they eat single-celled phytoplankton.