Behold, the mighty Ragged Sea Hare of Mandahl Bay!
These attractive little beauties are responsible for the lives of practically all creatures in the Mandahl lagoon.
Without them, the lagoon would be an algae-covered stench bomb with its waters choked of life maintaining oxygen.
Ragged Sea Hares eat algae! And they love cyanobacterias or blue-green algae.
You probably see these very common mollusks a lot more often than you think.
Ragged villae stick out all over their bodies giving them the appearance of sea weeds or mats of algae when they aggregate.
Even though these sea hares have very few predators due to a noxious tasting skin coating of mucus slime, looking like an innocent pile of seaweed while mating can only help.
They track each other down using oral tentacles plus smell and taste sensitive rhinopores to follow the slimy mucus trail left behind by a soon-to-be lover.
Ragged Sea Hares do not have to worry about finding a partner of the opposite sex. They are hermaphrodites meaning that they are both male and female at the same time! The front of each animal is male and the rear is female.
During aggregations they link up in head-to-tail masses continually fertilizing each other.
Sand shallows mating aggregations occur at Mandahl usually when Ragged Sea Hares are approaching over population numbers, making deeper areas over-crowded. During this time, lagoon waters can be exceptionally clear because of so much algae feasting.
All of these births at once, however, typically means a lot of sea hares will perish of old age at same time.
Shortly after this mass die off, Mandahl lagoon will scum over again, awaiting a new generation of lagoon-cleaning Ragged Sea Hares.
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