The sea sheep sea slug

Costasiella kuroshimae is a species of peculiar-looking sea slug that is nicknamed the sea sheep, sometimes also the slug Shaun the sheep for its resemblance to the cartoon character.

An astonishing mollusk by its physique but also, above all by its ability to use the chloroplast of algae for photosynthesis.

The sea sheep, a herbivore that recycles

This small gastropod a few millimeters long (far from the size of the black sea slug) has dorsal papillae reminiscent of sheep’s wool as well as horns, an atypical physique which has earned it the name of sea sheep despite its small size.

This slug spends most of its life on Avrainvillea, an algae from which it feeds and extracts chlorophyll. She recovers the chloroplasts from them, a process called kleptoplasty, with which, like her cousin elysia chlorotica, a leaf-shaped sea slug, she produces energy from light.

An animal that uses photosynthesis as a supplement to its diet, a supplement that can even allow it to live for several days without other food.

If she inspires scientists with this ability, for the majority it is of course her appearance and her resemblance to Shaun the sheep that make her famous, like Jorunna parva who looks like a rabbit.

This sea slug lives in a depth of the order of a few meters of Pacific waters in the area of ​​Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The name kuroshimae was given to it following its first observation near the Japanese island Kuro-shima.

Photos of this sea sheep slug

As a piece to add to the diversity of sea slug beauty, here are some pictures of Costasiella kuroshimae:


Photo credit alif_abdulrahman (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo credit Pauline Walsh Jacobson (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Photo credit Pauline Walsh Jacobson (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Photo credit Rickard Zerpe (CC BY 2.0)

Photo credit Robin Gwen Agarwal (CC BY-NC 2.0)


Photo credit D. Torres-Pulliza (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Photo credit Albert Kang (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Photo credit Damien Brouste (CC BY-NC 4.0)


Photo credit Franca Wermuth (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Photo credit Albert Kang (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Costasiella kuroshimae (Ichikawa, 1993) 5mm+-

Kuro Sapsucking slug - Costasiella kuroshimae

Costasiella sheep nudi

Sea sheep slug video

Here is a small video of a magnificent Costasiella kuroshimae:

More information on his Wikipedia page here.

Marine animal with a strange shape too, discover also the suggestive grainy cushion starfish.

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