Sea hares aren’t as cute and snuggly as their terrestrial counterparts: when they are inside a predator’s mouth, they release a sticky mix of ink and the chemical opaline. But scientists were never sure why they released opaline … until now.

When sea hares release opaline, a form of silica, it coats the sensory receptors on lobster antennae—essentially blocking the predators’ sense of smell. Without being able to smell the alluring scent of sea hare wafting towards them, the lobsters may “lose their appetite” and, instead, focus their energy on cleaning their antennae. 

Read more about the research and watch a video of sea hares inking lobsters at BBC Nature.

Photo: Genevieve Anderson

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