Residents of San Francisco are panicking as objects that appear to be human organs wash up on the seashore. Luckily, there has been no foul play - the visceral objects are actually swarms of beached sea slugs. The creatures are called sea hares and they are usually hidden residents of the surrounding ocean, but the region's recent spate of warm weather is believed to have stranded thousands of the creatures on the sand.
Sea hares can grow up to 30 inches long and weigh up to 15 pounds. They also ooze a purplish ink, which may have fooled curious beachgoers into believing they had stumbled upon remnants of a crime scene, but this is the sea hare’s way of protecting itself against predators. The slugs are not a threat to humans and usually live at depths of up to 60 feet below the sea surface.
The San Francisco bay area has recorded temperatures of 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a drastic change from its typical 57 degrees. It is believed that the unusual warmth is one reason the sea hares are showing up on the local beaches. Other animals have been seen farther north than expected as well, including thousands of tuna crabs arriving on the shores of San Diego last week. While residents can rest assured that the slimy mounds washing ashore in the bay area are not a real-life CSI nightmare, the bigger implications of climate change may, in fact, be even more frightening.
Images via Flickr