Storm or strong winds are also known to wash the squishy gastropods ashore, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The sea slugs do not sting or cause harm to humans who handle them.

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OKALOOSA ISLAND — Hundreds of sea slugs, or sea hares, were spotted along the shoreline of Okaloosa Island Monday.

According to Emlyn MacKenzie, lead aquarist for Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, the sea slugs are annual visitors to the island.

"The currents, this time of year, just pull them closer to shore and up on the beach," MacKenzie said.

Storm or strong winds are also known to wash the squishy gastropods ashore, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. The sea slugs do not sting or cause harm to humans who handle them.

Okaloosa County Beach Safety Chief Rich Huffnagle said if stepped on or opened up, the slugs will emit a purple ink. The slugs, according to the National Weather Channel, will use the purple ink as a defense mechanism.

"They have a purple tint to them," Huffnagle said. "When they dry up they look like tar."

MacKenzie said the many sea slugs that have died on the shore could have been affected by the June grass die-off.

"June grass is a type of algae and when it dies, it decomposes and bacteria takes up the oxygen in the water, causing animals closer to the bottom to die," MacKenzie said.

Huffnagle said the June grass is likely the culprit of the rotting smell currently on the island, not the beached slugs.

"It's all part of nature's cycle," Huffnagle said. "It happens every year. Everything comes ashore during the summer and offshore during the winter."

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