Zebra slugs can be found anywhere where they might feed on sponges – they are numerous along the reef line from Fort St. Catherine’s beach stretching to Tobacco bay. Here are 7 facts about zebra slugs you probably don’t already know.
- The zebra sea slug is a nudibranch, meaning “naked lung,” which characterizes the branchial rosette on their backs through which they breathe.
- The zebra slug is found only in Bermuda, usually located in sea-grass fields and the nooks and crannies within reefs, where it partakes in a diet of sponges.
- Like many sponge-eating organisms, the zebra slug utilizes the toxic chemicals found in the sponges it eats to defend itself. These foul-tasting toxic chemicals are stored in the mantle of the animal and prevent it from being preyed upon.
- When agitated the sea slugs can release a blue-white secretion of longifolin, a chemical derived from the Ethereal Sponge. This secretion causes immediate negative reactions from all organisms that come in to contact with it, and furthermore, the zebra slug appears to have a foul odour to fish even when not agitated.
- All nudibranchs are mollusks, but they lose their shell after the larval stage. They are also hermaphroditic, male and female at the same time, and with no need to search for a mate, they can release their eggs year round.
- The zebra slug can grow up to 18cm, making it one of the largest nudibranchs in its order. This is positive for those wishing to spot one in the wild – they are large, brightly coloured, and usually out in the open as their defense comes from the chemicals they ingest.
- The sea slugs are a brilliant pattern of navy blue and gold. Each organism has a pattern so different that they are easily distinguished, although each is bilaterally symmetrical. The bright colours are seen as a warning signal that the animal is toxic.