Meet the Leaf Sheep!

Seagriculture USA 2024

H​​ere’s something you don’t see every day. Akin to algae growing on polar bear fur, meet the Leaf Sheep, an adorable sea slug that eats so much algae it can photosynthesize.

Costasiella kuroshimae — also known as a “leaf slug,” “leaf sheep,” or “salty ocean caterpillar” — is a species of sacoglossan sea slug. Costasiella kuroshimae are shell-less marine opisthobranch gastropod mollusks in the family Costasiellidae. They range in size from 5 millimeters to 1 centimeter in length.

Discovered in 1993 off the coast of the Japanese island Kuroshima, Costasiella kuroshimae have been found in the waters near Japan, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Costasiella kuroshimae are capable of a physiological process called kleptoplasty, in which they retain the chloroplasts from the algae they feed on. Absorbing the chloroplasts from algae then enables them to indirectly perform photosynthesis.

Enjoy their ultimate cuteness! Thanks to the Nature Connection and Elizabeth Putnam.

Seagriculture USA 2024
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