The Furry Ocean Dwellers: Unraveling the Cutest Sea Slugs in Existence

It’s a sheep! It’s a cow! No, it’s Costasiella kuroshimae (or ‘Leaf Sheep’ for short). This adorable little sea slug, whose beady eyes and cute feelers make it look like a cartoon sea sheep, feeds on algae – just like the real thing.

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What’s fascinating about the tiny cute animal which can grow up to 5mm in length and can be found near Japan, Indonesia and the Philippines, is that they are one of the only sea creatures in the world that can perform photosynthesis (the others all belong to the sacoglossa sea slug clade). When these weird animals eat algae, they suck out the chloroplasts and incorporate them into their own bodies in a process called kleptoplasty. This process, which otherwise can only be performed by single-celled organisms, essentially makes them solar-powered slugs.If this cute little creature of the sea has inspired you to see sea slugs in a new light, then check out this adorable ‘sea bunny’ sea slug to seal the deal.

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The adorable sea creature you see here looks like something out of a Pixar film but it’s a real life sea slug with some awesome capabilities. Technically known as the Costasiella kuroshimae, this type of sea slug species is a shell-less cutie-pie that remains one of the only creatures in the world capable of using algae to photosynthesize.

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The unique sea slug with big beady eyes, a flat face and little feelers that resemble hands looks like a cartoon sheep of sorts, hence how it earned the nickname ‘leaf sheep’. Instead of chowing down on grass like real land-based sheep, there’s nothing this underwater creature loves more than eating algae.

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It’s the algae that give them their special powers. When they consume algae they suck out the chloroplasts to store in their own bodies for energy using a process known as kleptoplasty. Usually only single-celled organisms are capable of this process but the leaf sheep is a special species that is literally a solar-powered slug. As part of the sacoglossan sea slug clade they are among the only known animals capable of photosynthesis.

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With incredible hidden super powers this cartoon-like sea slug can grow as large as 5mm in length. They are so incredibly cute I only wish you could keep one for a pet! Instead of going to your local pet store you’ll have to take a dive near Japan, Indonesia or the Philippines where these creatures live to catch a glimpse.

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There are other types of sea slugs that isolate and store chloroplasts but most digest them right away or can only keep them for a few weeks. Only a select few, such as the sea sheep, can store chloroplasts for months. According to scientists this prevents them from starving if algae becomes unavailable. You can watch video below. 

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