Dog dies of suspected sea hare poisoning on Western Australian beach

A Western Australian couple whose 10-month-old cavoodle died from a suspected encounter with a sea hare want more warning signs erected on beaches.

Tom Eaton and Kristee Nostrini believe their dog Obi may have consumed a poisonous marine mollusc while out for a walk at Frenchman’s Bay in Albany on Tuesday.

They hadn’t heard of the sea creature before the incident and wanted to warn other dog owners of the dangers.

Ms Nostrini works as a caregiver and was taking her client, who has autism and depression, for walks along the beach because the local swimming pool was closed.

She did not see any creatures but noticed that her pup had weakened on her way back to the car.

Obi and Karli running through the tall grass.(Provided)

The Bayonet Head resident said Obi fell and started convulsing within 10 to 15 minutes.

She went to the Albany Freeway Vet, but it was too late.

“I was running to the vet and when I held him his body was lifeless and heavy,” Ms Nostrini said.

A man and a woman on a beach, kneeling beside their dog.
Tom Eaton and Kristee Nostrini with their dog Karli.(ABC Great Southern: Briana Fiore)

A budding therapy dog

Ms Nostrini said she was also about to start a new job in mental health and had planned for Obi to join her as a therapy dog.

“He helped my client a lot with her depression,” she said.

“[My client] blames himself.

A big dog and a small dog hug each other on the grass.
Mr Eaton says Karli yearns for his mate.(Provided)

“It was really awful. I don’t blame her at all.

“We listened to the song My Only Sunshine and you resonate with that, because if you had shit today you would come home and there it was the color of the sun shaking its tail.”

Mr Eaton said the couple’s other dog, Karli, was looking for Obi.

“She has the blanket he had on his bed…it’s pretty sad,” he said.

Mr Eaton warned other dog owners to be careful.

“Everything can be removed in 10 minutes,” he said.

“Just a lick or a bite can spell the end.

“We can’t bring him back, but we just want to make sure no one else has to go through this.”

A spotted sea hare.
A spotted sea hare.(Wikimedia Commons)

The signs could help

Marine biologist Pia Markovic said sea hares are jelly-like animals with internal shells closely related to snails and slugs.

The creatures are dark brown and about 20 centimeters long.

“They usually live in rock pools and are susceptible to being washed ashore,” Ms Markovic said.

A man holds a photo of a fluffy little dog.
Obi was 10 months old.(ABC Great Southern: Briana Fiore)

She said the signage would help raise awareness and urged people to keep their dogs on leashes.

The city of Albany said people should be vigilant.

“The city has begun including a specific message on the entrance signs to many city-run coastal sites,” a spokesperson said.

“This message indicates that dangerous sea creatures may exist in the vicinity.”