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Purple blobs washing ashore on Bay Area beaches, scaring visitors

Giant purple slugs are washing ashore in the Bay Area

Some sea life is beautiful. Think dolphins, killer whales or the clown fish that inspired “Finding Nemo.”

Then there's the sea hare. A giant purple slug, it has led some people who have spotted it on Bay Area beaches to report that they have found body parts, San Francisco's KPIX-TV reported.

A cutesy cameo in a sequel to “The Little Mermaid” is highly unlikely.

The globs are harmless herbivores, preferring seaweed over humans, scientists say.

Even so, the slugs' appearance has been frightening to visitors who have spotted the creatures at Miller Knox Regional Park in Richmond, the Crab Cove in Alameda and Lake Merritt in Oakland. They're flat-out ugly, basically.

“They're about the size of a human organ, and that's almost what they look like,” Morgan Dill, a naturalist with the East Bay Regional Park District, told the TV station.

The slugs — the largest of which can weigh up to 31 pounds — do not have an outer shell and emit a slimy cloud of purple ink, possibly to ward off predators, according to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Monterey. The ink color is a result of its red algae diet.

According to the Contra Costa Times, scientists believe warmer ocean temperatures could be causing the slugs to wash ashore.

The creatures usually die after they lay eggs. Cooler water often delays spawning and death.

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