Toxic sea slug warning for Tauranga beaches

The toxic Grey side-gilled sea slug. Photo: Cawthron Institute.

A warning for dog owners to control their pets on the beach and parents to keep an eye on what their children touch on the beach.

It’s that time of the year again when toxic sea slugs wash up onto the beach.

Grey side-gilled sea slugs are deadly.

There have been past reports of dogs dying in a very short space of time after licking or ingesting the slugs.

The Coastal Marine Field Centre in Tauranga picked up one of these deadly slugs last week.

Dr Kaden Leonard says that was from the Bridge Marina in the harbor.

But he hasn’t noticed any washing up on the shore yet.

Director of the Centre, Professor Chris Battershill, says the warm weather causes the slugs to lose their grip on rocks and end up being washed up onto the beach.

“The slugs skin has the toxin Tetrodotoxin which is the same as puffer fish,” he says.

“We are still trying to find the cause of the toxin.

“Dogs are inquisitive and we are aware of cases where they have either licked or ingested the sea slugs and died as a result.”

His advice, not to get too close to these deadly sea creatures and if you do accidently handle them wash your hands thoroughly.


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