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Sea Hares Have Been Spotted In Stuart Waters, But Don't Worry, They're Harmless

Name that sea creature. 

Atlantic black sea hares have been spotted swimming in area waters, capturing the attention of beachgoers. 

For those unfamiliar with the slimy slug-like creatures, WPTV spoke with the Florida Oceanographic Society’s Zack Jud, who said sea hares—which emit purple ink when they’re threatened—are harmless to us. 

Atlantic black sea hares, which can grow up to 15 inches long, can be spotted along the east coast, Bermuda and even Texas, according to the Florida Oceanographic Society.

While they're native to the area—they live in near-shore waters and can usually be found in local estuaries and the Indian River Lagoon—it's fairly unusual for so many of them to be spotted at one time, Jud told Stuart Magazine. However, there do tend to be more sightings in the summers.

He said the recent high rate of sea hares in the area may have something to do with west winds that have been pushing warmer waters back to sea. 

The creatures may call our waters home, but that doesn't necessarily mean anglers and snorkelers are familiar with them.

"A lot of people see them and don’t know what they are," he said, explaining that many people see one swim by and then shrug it off since it's an isolated incident. 

Sea hares were recently featured in a National Geographic clip titled “World’s Weirdest: Underwater Love Chain” that explains how the creatures — which contain both female and male sex organs — get it on. Let’s just say their mating ritual is, well, interesting. 

Watch the WPTV video, below: