What the heck is an Atlantic Black Seahare? Literally minutes after we tied up the dock lines returning to Burnt Store Marina, I spotted this ugly thing swimming under the stern of the boat as I was adjusting a chafe gear on a stern line. It was about the size of a large caribbean squid but clearly not a squid. It almost looked like something that belonged inside a shell that had escaped. After making sure David saw it, I ran for the camera and got one murky photo. Later, going to get pizza, we spotted it again swimming under the boat. This time instead of running for the camera, I ran for the Reef Creature Identification Guide (if you don’t have one, you need one for situations just like this) by Paul Humann get it at Amazon – in fact,the three book set is even better, Reef Fish, Reef Coral & Reef Creatures. We use all three books all the time — even just around our marina.
According to the Reef Creature Identification Guide, the Atlantic Black Seahare is uncommon in Florida and the Caribbean – so not only do we have manatees in the marina, now we have seahares? Seahares are dark, sometimes spotted, 4-10 inches, max 14 inches – this guy was probably at least a foot long. They inhabit bottoms with abundant algae growth. Occasionally they spread their mantle flaps like wings and swim vigorously — which is what it was doing when we spotted it! It also has a defense mechanism of a harmless dark purple ink cloud that it releases when it feels threatened like an octopus. Apparently my camera didn’t make it feel threatened because we didn’t witness the purple cloud.
For a sea creature that eats algae, this Atlantic Black Seahare probably thought it found the mother lode when our almost bottom paintless boat came back into the marina. We haven’t had bottom paint since 2009, and while it lasted well until this season, we are WAY past due for new bottom paint. But we’re out of time, so it will have to wait until this fall & until then, we’ll have to pay Mark the diver to clean the bottom this summer more often than usual – probably once a month. Maybe the Atlantic Black Seahare will be happy to help Mark out! 🙂
You just never know who might be around to welcome you back to your marina after you’ve been out cruising for a few months! 🙂 Anyone else have strange unknown creatures swimming around their boats? Leave a comment, share & let us know! Cheers! Jan