If this is Saturday, it must be Santa Cruz

Last night was another lively and fun meeting, hosted by the only SANE people at Berkeley—as is typical, the questions were the most entertaining part of the event, and they just kept coming. Maybe I should be brave and just skip the whole lecture part and stand up there and let ’em keep me dancing with weird questions, for two or three hours.

Today, though, I’ll probably open my mouth some more first. I’ll be heading up to Santa Cruz, a rare place with a deep appreciation of our molluscan cousins, and will be speaking at 7pm in the Bay Tree Building, Third Floor, Cervantez and Velasquez Room. I hope it’s a big room, crowds have been on the order of 400 or so. Although it has been raining a lot, so maybe fewer Santa Cruz students will show up because they’re all out cuddling the happy, booming population of banana slugs.

I do love me a banana slug, too.


  1. vanharris says

    Will Kirk Cameron (banana man) tell us how these critturs prove the existence of his god-fellah? Please, pretty please.

  2. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Damn, banana slugs are big.

    Bit of trivia courtesy of my daughter: The University of California-Santa Cruz has the banana slug as their school mascot/team name. This is the only campus of the UC system that doesn’t have use bears as a mascot/team name.

  3. wrmurray says

    How does she know they’re male? Hell, how do they reproduce anyway? Time to go look them up.

  4. fly44d says

    Welcome to Santa Cruz! I hope you can find time to relax and visit the sights. Henry Cowell SP to watch the redwoods and maybe find a slug, West Cliff walk & lighthouse to watch the surfers, Downtown to watch the people, the harbor to watch the boats float. There is the Mystery Spot, but I’ve never been there. :-)

  5. tresmal says

    I believe slugs are hermaphrodites. So they are both male and female.

    So those slugs should have been named Terry, Pat and Chris.

  6. Sven DiMilo says

    if you lick ’em they taste like chocolate

    I am not kidding

    ‘Tis: That’s not true. UCSB is the freakin Gauchos of all things and Irvine is or used to be the Anteaters.

  7. theshortearedowl says

    “UCSC has always offered a wide-ranging physical education and recreation program designed to appeal to the greatest number of students, but it has based its approach on some unusual ideas: that athletics are for all students, not just team members of major sports; that the most important goal of a collegiate physical education department should be to introduce as many students as possible to lifelong physical activities; and that the joy of participating is more important than winning.”

    AMAZING how many universities let this pass them by. If you’re not into football or basketball, or dog forbid FEMALE, the treadmill’s that way…

  8. aharleygyrl says

    #3 vanharris | January 23, 2010 12:06 PM

    Will Kirk Cameron (banana man) tell us how these critturs prove the existence of his god-fellah? Please, pretty please.


    i found this comment too:


    gordo Says:
    May 12th, 2006 at 8:57 pm

    I kept waiting for him to mention how the shape of a banana allows men who have a sinful desire to lay with other men to satisfy themselves without violating any of the rules in Leviticus. Truly, the banana must have been designed for humans. And banana slugs.

  9. 'Tis Himself, OM says


    I showed your link to my daughter. Her response was “oh, okay” and then to walk away.

  10. Sven DiMilo says

    Hey, have the predicted caravans of nomadic Zedheads, following PZ from talk to talk in brightly-painted vehicles and selling each other Expelled! (*jazz hands*) T-shirts and grilled-cheese sandwiches in the parking lot before the show, materialized?

  11. blf says

    Ah yes, Banana Slugs. When I was still in Santa Cruz, I inadvertently upset a good friend and colleague. So as an apology, besides the chocolate (she’s a chocoholic) I got her a small live plant for her desk—and went to the local Greenpeace store (yes, there was, at least at that time, one in Santa Cruz (for people who know the area, this was the one downtown, not the tacky tourist shop near the boardwalk)) and also got a wooden life-sized and realistically painted model of a Banana Slug, carved in an inverted J-hook shape, so it looked like it was crawling out of something and down the side. I stuck in the plant’s pot so it looked like it was crawling out of the pot and down the side. And gave the plant, with the Banana Slug slightly hidden beneath some leaves and my hand, plus the chocolate to her as an apology. As anticipated, the plant and chocolate and my apologies got all of her attention…

    I left before she could find the Banana Slug.

    Several days later she told me she totally freaked out when she first saw the Banana Slug crawling out of the nice plant, and it took her a few moments to realise it was a expertly-craved wooden model…

    We had quite a laugh above it over a beer as I now recall.

  12. Odonata says

    There is some interesting research being done in banana slug reproduction. Wow – those slugs can get really nasty during mating! If you scroll down to the end of the research page, you will see some links to some very intimate slug behavior.

  13. Odonata says


    When did you start having an issue with slugs? Did your dislike of slugs start after you checked out the research mentioned in #22? How do you feel about other mollusks?

  14. blf says

    Sili, you’ll have to do better than that. That mild rant isn’t even a measly 0.1 Starfarts.

  15. ~Pharyngulette~ says

    Having spent my entire childhood in Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz mountains, I can recall many a time when I found a banana slug in my shoe, on the wall of my bedroom, climbing up the front door, in the dog’s dish, hanging around on a fallen tree, lurking in the woodpile… man, those slugs are everywhere. Sure, they’re attractive to look at through a video, but, trust me, you don’t want to have to be peeling them off your freshly-washed jeans, as I did one day before school in 1977. Bleh. Not nice.

    As an aside, I also recall hearing that, when uni administration “up high” (I assumed when I heard this story that it was at the State level), had demanded that the previously un-mascoted UCSC had to select an animal to represent its sports teams, the student body rejected the idea outright. The story I heard was that administrators wanted the something like a sea lion or leopard seal selected, but the students had such antipathy towards competitive sports generally – one of the attractions of UCSC to my generation of college kids was that it wasn’t sports orientated – that they laughingly voted for the banana slug as mascot. Admin was outraged, harrumphed, argued, tried to force their choice and finally conceded, unhappily. They then retconned the whole selection incident to sound as if it was their intention to recognise participation-rather-then-competition in the first place.

    That’s how I heard it, anyway. So it has to be true, because people never lie or embroider stories when retelling them to others, right?

  16. Sili says

    Childhood trauma – or something like it.

    I hate snails and slugs with the fire of a thousand suns. If there was a way to kill them all, I’d go for it. Even at the cost of eradicating all other molluscs in the process.

    *Googles “starfart”*

    I seeeeeee …

  17. blf says

    ~Pharyngulette~, that’s broadly correct. The story is recounted at http://www.ucsc.edu/about/campus_mascot.asp and, of course, Wikipedia. It took about six years, 1980–1986, and several student votes, for UC/UCSC officialdom to concede.

    Whilst checking my facts, I was reminded that Banana Slug has been named or voted as one of the nest college mascots or nicknames.

  18. WowbaggerOM says

    Bit of trivia courtesy of my daughter: The University of California-Santa Cruz has the banana slug as their school mascot/team name.

    Yeah, I learned this when I met a UCSC student who’d come to James Cook (an Australian college with a crapload of marine biology students – ’cause the Great Barrier Reef is, like, right there) and she explained to me what a banana slug was; I didn’t actually believe her until she showed me a picture.

    The t-shirt that Tarantino’s character gives Vincent Vega (Travolta’s character) in Pulp Fiction is a UCSC Banana Slugs t-shirt – as you can see in this pic.

  19. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawncr0FDc8gdl7yJBz0SJ15D0etcTIOtL0s says

    Banana slugs get into the Berkeley hills too. Thirty years ago, when we lived in an in-law apartment up by the Rose Garden and I worked night shifts, I got out of bed one discouragingly drizzly midday and went out to run a few errands. I was walking up the steps to the street when I encountered, at approximately eye level, a banana slug feasting on a puddle of cat vomit.

    I took the hint and went back to bed.

    Ron Sullivan

  20. Blind Squirrel FCD says

    I hate snails and slugs with the fire of a thousand suns. If there was a way to kill them all, I’d go for it. Even at the cost of eradicating all other molluscs (sic) in the process.

    Oh Sili, You’re contributing to the demise of snails with every bowl of clam chowder. Here’s a pic of what we are really eating (USA). Enjoy.


  21. Blind Squirrel FCD says

    Sigh. Never trust your spell check when sicing on someone. Mollusk is preferred in the USA, but apparently the USA isn’t the entire world. Who knew?


  22. R. Schauer says

    Go Slugs! My son goes to school there. It’s a great place! Far better than the plains of Minnesota especially at this time of year. And PZ’s talk will be very, very well attended. Wish I had the time to attend.

    give Andy a call…he’ll help you any way he can.

  23. daveau says

    We were just fascinated by the banana slugs in Olympic National Forest, much to the puzzlement of the park employees, who viewed them as pests.

  24. jonwell says

    I took me niece and nephew for a walk through Henry Cowell a while back, and they wanted to see a banana slug. I looked for a while, but the blasted things are rather hard to find. There is a leaf littering the ground which has the same shape and color and general size as a banana slug. Almost as if the slug were disguising itself to avoid searching eyes. Truly wonderful the god which made such a thing as this. Maybe I should ask PZ about that tonite…

    Anyway, I found a few and the kids were duly impressed.

  25. anthrosciguy says

    I was there in SC during the attempt by the chancellor to make the official team name the Sea Lions. It’d been unofficially the Banana Slugs for years. The students refused to go along and the teams werre referred to in the student publications as the Sea Slugs until the chancellor backed down and gave them their true and proper name.

  26. https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawncr0FDc8gdl7yJBz0SJ15D0etcTIOtL0s says

    Farther north, those slugs come in a dazzling (dazzling for a slug, anyway) array of colors. We were strolling a park in Ferndale in search of gray jays and encountered a herd of them at a fork in the trail. They were olive-drab, white, gray, black, olive-and-black pinto, white-and-black pinto, olive with black spots, white with black blotching running down their backs… It was like a pond full of koi if you substitute olive for orange.

    Very slow koi.

    The local First People ate them when the salmon ran out and they were really, really desperate. Really desperate. I read a recipe that involved slicing thin and pounding (OK, like abalone) and boiling in many changes of water.

    If I thought they’d taste like abalone I’d eat ’em. But as it is, sorry, Sven, I ain’t licking one. I’ll watch while you do it, though.

    And bfish is right about the slime.

  27. https://me.yahoo.com/a/Cach3yt80drWbm.LwEDvxwgx6AQEBqqPjPE-#721fa says

    It’s Cervantes, and “s”, not a “z”. (And it is Velásquez, with an accent mark, too.)

  28. shonny says

    Posted by: vanharris Author Profile Page | January 23, 2010 12:06 PM

    Will Kirk Cameron (banana man) tell us how these critturs prove the existence of his god-fellah? Please, pretty please.

    Maybe there should be a collection of Banana slugs so that Cameron’s ‘fans’ could send him a few crate-fulls of the charmers? And to make the surprise complete make the crates of a ‘jack-in-the-box’ type, bringing one kind of slug together with another.

  29. Quine says

    I am visiting family in Colorado, so I could not be there when PZ was speaking in my home town. I live in the redwood forest, so I have to remove the banana slugs from my house on a regular basis, but like to see them doing their natural part in the forest.