Author Susan Benton

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Sea slug solar powered

The Eastern Emerald Elysia is a sea slug that has really gone green! When it eats algae, it "steals" the plant's photosynthesizing chloroplasts in a process known as kleptoplasty. (Ever heard of a kleptomaniac?) It then embeds them in its own digestive cells.

The kidnapped chloroplasts continue to photosynthesize energy straight from the sun for as long as nine months. If the sea slug finds itself without a source of algae, it goes solar, producing its own energy like a plant.

This bright green sea slug exists along the east coast of the United States as well as around the entire peninsula of Florida and along the coast of Texas. Only one-inch long and with no shell for protection, its color also serves to camouflage it within the algae beds.

Seems like this "planimal" has the best of both worlds.

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(Photo:By Karen N. Pelletreau et al. [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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