It’s really quite mesmerizing.
Watching the winged sea slug (Gastropteron pacificum) gracefully flap its “wings” (parapodial flaps) makes me realize what an awesome world this is – filled with weird and fantastical animals.
Normally, when I think of slugs, I think of the icky slime trail a banana slug (Ariolimax spp.) leaves behind on a wet walking path. But watching the winged sea slug gracefully beat its translucent wings (see video below) makes it seem more like an angel and less like your average slug.
This animal also spends time on the ocean bottom, resting amid grape-like egg clusters.
It’s found on the western coast of North America from Alaska to northern Mexico. That’s right – these winged sea slugs can be found in British Columbian waters.
When we think of angels – we think of the infinite sky. But these animals are found from the intertidal zone (the part of the shoreline covered at high tide and uncovered at low tide) to 425 metres underwater – that’s as deep as Vancouver’s Harbour Centre building stacked two and a half times.
Our resident videographer was able to capture some footage after getting a tip from the B.C. Waters curator that this winged sea slug was in the same exhibit as some other marine sea slugs (nudibranchs) behind the scenes at the Aquarium.
Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience, Vancouver Aquarium.