Have You Seen The Sea Bunnies?

Its resemblance to a fluffy bunny has catapulted a tiny sea slug to Internet fame.

Its resemblance to a fluffy bunny has catapulted a tiny sea slug to Internet fame.

white and black Jorunna parva
Via Dive Shop Exiles/YouTube 
Jorunna parva nudibranchs come in different colors. This one happens to be mostly white.

Many wondrous discoveries have yet to be made in the universe, but planet Earth still has some mighty interesting surprises to offer — and many of those are in the sea. The sea slug Jorunna parva is just one example. 

This week the world was introduced to this tiny slug (measuring no more than 21mm or 0.8 inch) thanks to social media. Although it was discovered and named back in 1938, it hasn’t been fully appreciated by the masses until now. I believe Rocket News 24 began the frenzy when it reported on it blowing up in the Japanese Twitterverse.

One glance at the creature, and you understand why it has captured everyone’s attention. This is no boring terrestrial slug of indeterminate gray color. No. This beauty sports vivid colors, black-tipped spikes and amazing bunny ear-like appendages (these are actually rhinophores, which are scent receptors). One could even argue there’s a fluffy tail at the opposite end (that cluster is actually the slug’s gill).

A YouTube video posted by Dive Store Exiles in 2014 shows the slow-motion action of a white member of the species. The resemblance to a teeny, tiny bunny is uncanny. Fluffy? Check. Ears and tail? Check and double check.

Of course, the resemblance pretty much ends there. After all, these “sea bunnies” live throughout the western Pacific, and they are carnivores that feed off sponges. Give them some hay and they would crawl away, ever so slowly. They also don’t seem to be herd animals like our furry rabbits, who prefer to have a friend or two around.

Still, you have to thank the sea bunnies for introducing the world to the colorful beauty of nudibranchs. Enjoy a few more photos of these beauties.

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