Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Richard F. Dame


This study attempted to determine the niche of Aplysia dactylomela, the spotted sea hare, in the waters of Discovery Bay, Jamaica. It also determined the basal metabolic rate and the oxygen consumed by the sea hare. The sea hare is a large opisthobranch mollusk from the Anaspidea order; it is common in the shallow areas of Discovery Bay, Jamaica. Aplysia dactylomela is active at night and rests during the day. It is hypothesized that the sea hare habitat will be a shallow area containing rocks, coral rubble, and ample food supply. Also, it is thought that individual organisms will consume more oxygen during the night than the daytime, and those with more mass will have a higher metabolic rate. Twenty Aplysia dactylomela were collected at dusk in the shallow waters of the Discovery Bay lagoon near Discovery Bay Marine Lab. Oxygen consumption was measured in a wet lab in two day, and two night experiments and converted to basal metabolic rate in mg/O2/gram/hour. Sea hare abundance was found by randomly placing thirty quadrats throughout the lagoon. The results of the field study came out as hypothesized. No sea hares were found in areas deeper than two meters; they were found in rocky areas with abundant algae and seaweeds. In this study, there was found to be little correlation between size and metabolic rate (R2=0.3083). This agrees with previous research done by Carefoot in 1991: he found no relationship to exist between oxygen consumption and body weight in A. dactylomela. Another study by Carefoot in 1989 found the most energy demanding and oxygen consuming time of day for sea hares to be just prior to dusk when the sea hare is feeding intensely in preparation for daytime quiescence. He found the least energy demanding time to be during the morning while the sea hare was resting. The results of this study were not similar; there was no significance found between night and day rates of oxygen consumption (t-value 0.151713). Movement, release of ink, feeding, and stress were found to influence metabolic rates in sea hares.