Sea Angel

Sea Angel30” x 40”

Sea Angel
Clione limacina

Marine_06-09_19579

Friday Harbor Marine Laboratories, University of Washington
San Juan Island, Washington

Archival Pigment Print

The wing-like extensions of this sea slug’s foot allow it to “fly” angelically, but this angel has a dark side: It preys voraciously (and exclusively) on a species of swimming snail, Limacina helina. In fact, the species name limacina refers to its prey animal. The sea angel’s mouth sits between the two short tentacles on its head. When the predator comes into contact with a swimming snail, it everts a set of six long appendages from the mouth, capturing the snail in their grip. Holding the shell tightly, it extracts the body and swallows it whole. Tiny, young sea angels rely on larval swimming snails for food, while adult angels consume adult prey.