Have you seen this sea creature before? Long before the sea bunny became quite the viral video sensation, these unique nudibranchs, named Jorunna parva, have been hippity-hopping around the waters of the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Let’s learn a little about these seemingly “furry” friends.
- That’s No Fur Coat
First of all, that white fur coat you see on the sea bunny slug is usually yellow or orange, not white. Secondly, it’s definitely not fur. What you’re looking at are groups of small rods known as caryophyllidia, which cover its back. They’re arranged around small black knobs that give it a spotted look. Most experts believe these organs play sensory roles.
- Those Ears Are Sensory Organs
The two ears that make the creatures look like bunnies are rhinophores, and they help them to identify chemicals in the water that allow them to find food and mates.
- They’re Hermaphrodites
The sea bunny slug has both male and female reproductive organs, and when they mate with one another, both partners will exchange sperm.
- They Don’t Taste Very Good
Predators stay away from these cute little slugs because they are incredibly toxic. The sea bunny slug belongs to a group of sea slugs called dorid nudibranchs, which steal toxic defenses from its food. Sea bunny slugs will often eat sponges, which contain toxins; some of these toxins are used in cancer treatments. Sea slugs also have the ability to steal the stingers out of jellyfish and use them against predators.
- They Have Short Lifespans
The average lifespan of a sea bunny slug is between a couple of months and a year.
The sea bunny slug is a fascinating underwater creature that has little in common with an actual rabbit, despite its appearance. If you’re interested in observing the sea bunny slug during a scuba diving trip you’ll need to travel to the Indo-Pacific Ocean, anywhere from South Africa to the central Pacific, to find them. Just remember: They’re quite small, less than an inch long, so you’ll have to look very carefully.