This Adorable Sea Slug Loves Eating Algae So Much It Can Photosynthesize

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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.

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.

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.

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.

leaf-sheep-sea-slug-costasiella-kuroshimae-5Photo Credit: Johnny Chiu

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.

leaf-sheep-sea-slug-costasiella-kuroshimae-2Photo Credit: Jim Lynn

leaf-sheep-sea-slug-costasiella-kuroshimae-4Photo Credit: Randi Ang

leaf-sheep-sea-slug-costasiella-kuroshimae-1Photo Credit: Jim Lynn

leaf-sheep-sea-slug-costasiella-kuroshimae-6Photo Credit: Lynn Wu

If this adorable little sea slug has stolen your heart you have to see these Fluffy Sea Bunnies That Are Cute Enough To Cuddle!