Tuesday, 14 October 2014

14 Beautiful and Amazing Nudibranchs

Nudibranchs are one of the most beautiful, amazing and diverse groups of animals found in oceans all over the world. These enchanting and colorful creatures are mollusks from the class Gastropoda.

These little critters are often noted for their extraordinary colors and striking forms. Here is a list of 14 of the weirdest and most amazing nudibranchs:

1. Glaucus atlanticus & Glaucus marginatus
Glaucus atlanticus, or blue glaucus,  is one of the two representatives of the family Glaucidae. Interestingly, it floats upside down at the surface of the sea, keeping afloat by swallowing air which is stored in the stomach. The species occurs in all major oceans and adults grow to be 5-8 cm long.
Blue glaucus (Glaucus atlanticus)
 Glaucus atlanticus
Photo by Taro Taylor from Sydney

Glaucus marginatus is the other representative of the family Glaucidae. It looks like a smaller version of Glaucus atlanticus. Another difference is that the cerata (saw teeth on the skin) are arranged in a single row in each arch.
Glaucus marginatus looks like glaucus atlanticus
Glaucus marginatus
Photo by Taro Taylor from Sydney, Australia

2. Berghia coerulescens
Berghia coerulescens is a species of marine nudibranch in the family Aeolidiidae. The species can be spotted in European waters, the Caribbean Sea, Jamaica, the Portuguese Exclusive Economic Zone, and the Spanish Exclusive Economic Zone. Adults grow to a maximum length of 4 to 7 cm.

Beautiful photo of Berghia coerulescens
Berghia coerulescens

3. Nembrotha kubaryana
Nembrotha kubaryana, also known as the variable neon slug, is a colorful nudibranch of the family Polyceridae. It occurs in the tropical Indo-West Pacific. Adults can be at least 12 cm long. 

Amazing Nembrotha kubaryana photo
Nembrotha kubaryana
Photo By Chad Ordelheide (Own work)
4. Felimare picta
Felimare picta occurs throughout the Mediterranean Sea (Greece), European waters (Spain, Portugal), the Eastern North Atlantic Ocean (Azores) and the Gulf of Mexico. Adults grow to be about 20 cm long and feed on various sponges.

Purple Felimare picta with yellow stripes
 Felimare picta
5. Chromodoris lochiChromodoris lochi, commonly known as Loch's Chromodoris, is a colorful species that can be found in the tropical waters of the central Indo-Pacific region and is known to range from Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines to the Fiji and the northern coast of Australia. Adults can be at least 4 cm long.

Chromodoris lochi nudibranch
Chromodoris lochi
Photo By Alexander R. Jenner (Own work)

6. Flabellina exoptata
Flabellina exoptata, commonly known as the much-desired flabellina or desirable flabellina. It occurs throughout the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific. Individuals can reach a length of 4.8 cm.

Purple Flabellina exoptata sea slug
Flabellina exoptata
By Chika Watanabe from Los Altos, USA

7. Goniobranchus annulatus
Goniobranchus annulatus is a large smooth pale-bodied nudibranch with many vivid yellow spots, though these may be absent in some individuals. Individuals can be 10 cm long and occur in the Red Sea, the Indian Ocean, from the East Coast of South Africa to Thailand and also in the Mediterranean Sea

White Goniobranchus annulatus with yellow spots
Goniobranchus annulatus
By Joi Ito
[CC-BY-2.0 ]

8. Goniobranchus geminus
Goniobranchus geminus, a nudibranch distinguished by its yellow body with four color bands around the mantle edge, the outermost which is white, followed by grayish-purple, and then bluish-white then yellow.

Goniobranchus geminus with purple spots
Goniobranchus geminus
By Steve Childs from Lancaster, UK (Flickr)

9. Doriprismatica atromarginata
Doriprismatica atromarginata occurs throughout the tropical and sub-tropical Indo-Pacific area. Their color ranges from creamy-white through yellow to pale brown and individuals can reach a length of at least 6 cm.

Amazing Doriprismatica atromarginata  picture
Doriprismatica atromarginata

10. Cuthona sibogae
Cuthona sibogae is a common sight in the tropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific region. It is a small sized nudibranch, reaching a maximum length of 3.5 cm.

Purple Cuthona sibogae
Cuthona sibogae
By [wj](Flickr)
[CC BY-NC-SA 2.0]

11. Limacia cockerelli
Limacia cockerelli is found from the West coast of North America ranging from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada to Baja California. It has also been found in the Gulf of California at Bahía de los Ángeles.Adult reach lengths of 2.6 cm and have long dorsal papillae with white branchial plumes.

White-orange Limacia cockerelli
Limacia cockerelli
By Minette Layne from Seattle, Washington (Shake ya shimmy)

12. Chromodoris dianae
Chromodoris dianae occurs exclusively in the Philippines, Indonesia and Borneo and can reach a maximum length of 4 cm. The body is elongated with a foot which is distinct from the upper body by a skirt like mantle hiding partially the foot. 

Blue Chromodoris dianae
Chromodoris dianae
By Steve Childs from Lancaster, UK (Chromodoris dianae)

13. Hypselodoris apolegma
Hypselodoris apolegma occurs in the tropical Western Pacific Ocean. The species is easily distringuished by its predominantly bright red pink coloration.

Beautiful Hypselodoris apolegma pink pair !
Hypselodoris apolegma pair
By Alexander Vasenin (Own work)

Some quick and interesting facts about nudibranchs
- Today there are more than 3,000 described species of nudibranchs.
- Nudibranchs are casually called sea slugs, but many sea slugs belong to several taxonomic groups which are not related to nudibranchs. In simple words, all nudibranchs are sea slugs but not all sea slugs are nudibranchs.
- Many Nudibranchs eat prey with nematocysts (such as the Portuguese man-of-war ), the nematocysts are consumed but not discharged. Instead, they are stored in the nudibranch's cerata where they can be used to sting predators and enemies. One such example is Glaucus atlanticus. 
- Like most gastropods, Nudibranchs also have a shell but only during the larval stage, it disappears in the adult form.
- These beautiful creatures have a short lifespan. Some live up to a year whereas some only a few weeks.
- Nudibranchs have poor vision and only see the difference between light and dark.
- The word "nudibranch" derives from the Latin word nudus (naked) and the Greek work βραγχια (gills).
- Some nudibranchs can absorb the chloroplasts from the algae they eat into their cerata. This allows them to photosynthesize using the energy provided by the sun.

Feel free to leave a comment with your favorite nudibranchs!

1 comment:

  1. The purple one is so cool, I want to eat it!!