A graceful sea hare swims in San Carlos Bay. 

A graceful sea hare swims in San Carlos Bay. 

The topic of camp last week at Sanibel Sea School was the sea hare, a magnificent animal that should not be confused with the sea hair you get after swimming in the Gulf. Sea hares are gastropod mollusks (like whelks and conchs), but their shell is hidden inside their body. Often found swimming gracefully through Sanibel’s waters, these spotted slugs have sensory organs that resemble a rabbit’s floppy ears and spend most of their time grazing on red algae.

Snorkelers search for sea hares but come up with an urchin during Sea Hare Week. 

Snorkelers search for sea hares but come up with an urchin during Sea Hare Week. 

In celebration of sea hares, our campers snorkeled in search of them, explored their spawning habitat at Bunche Beach, and made a giant slip and slide on the beach so they could feel what it’s like to be a slippery sea slug.

Kira Zautcke experiences sensory inactivation using miracle fruit and lemons. 

Kira Zautcke experiences sensory inactivation using miracle fruit and lemons. 

Sea hares also produce a fragrant purple ink that inactivates the senses of their predators, so we posted our own purple warning signs around Sanibel Sea School, tie-dyed t-shirts in shades of purple, and experienced sensory inactivation for ourselves during an experiment with miracle fruit and lemons.

The Friday morning surfboard paddling race is always something to look forward to. 

The Friday morning surfboard paddling race is always something to look forward to. 

We ended the week with our traditional surfboard paddling race and Friday afternoon cookout, but this week we ate our burgers with a side of sea hare egg strings (or green spaghetti, depending on who you ask). We think our campers would agree that it was our best and slimiest week yet!

Click here to see more photos from Sea Hare Week.

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