Aplysia dactylomela lives a sexual reproductive life like many organisms; however in a method peculiar to the average person, A. dactylomela is hermaphroditic in nature. The specific sexual life style is called simultaneous hermaphroditic which means that one organism during its life can fertilize the eggs of another organism thus acting as the male meanwhile producing unfertilized eggs as a female. Oddly, multiple organisms are able to form chains during copulation where they are simultaneously providing sperm to one organism while receiving sperm to fertilize their eggs from other organisms! (Encyclopedia of Life 2008). It may seem odd but the penis of A. dactylomela is located on its head with an opening in between the rhinophores and cephalic tentacles on the right side of the head (Klussman-Klob 2004). During mating, the penis extends out of the opening and connects to the vagina, located between the parapodia within the mantle cavity, of the organism in front of it (Sea Slug Forum 2000). As a means of reproduction, these sea slugs attract mates with the aid of pheromones, specifically attractin, which draws mates to fertilize the eggs within another organism through internal fertilization (Cummins et al. 2010).

Unfortunately, studies have shown that the rise in ocean temperatures may interfere with the ability of A. dactylomela to communicate successfully through the use of these pheromones as they have been observed to more rapidly denigrate in warmer environments (Cummins et al. 2010).

Through their usage of sexual chemicals and hermaphroditic biology, the average sea hare is able to produce as many as 67 million offspring during their year-round reproductive life: usually beginning around two months of age and continuing to the extent of their life at about 10-11 months (Encyclopedia of Life 2008; Emore 2002). With such a large quantity of spawn these little creatures are awfully busy, reproducing once every two to four days! (Encyclopedia of Life 2008). As they are spawning, the spotted sea hares consume large amounts of food until they reach their maximum body size and spawning abilities; shortly thereafter this baby-making-machine sadly begins to rapidly deteriorate which ultimately leads to its ever-so-untimely death. The offspring are completely independent from their parents once the eggs have been laid; requiring very little energy investment from the parents aside from the actual fertilization process. 


Up next: Uncover the intriguing interactions of the spotted sea hare