In simple terms, Nudibranchs are just sea slugs, but unlike their terrestrial cousins, they are often found in vibrant colours and are regular described as the jewels of the marine world. This week, we show off just one of over 2000 known Nudibranch species captured by our talented eco – host Thomas.
Blink and you’ll miss it!
A handful of species can grow up to 30cm in length, but most are usually just a couple of centimetres, with some as small as just a few millimetres! As a result, these amazing creatures are often hard to find, and scientists are still identifying new species almost daily!
But don’t let their size fool you; these vibrant colours are a warning to predators, with many being poisonous, releasing an acid when touched or irritated. Now, although sea slugs seem like an unlikely canvas for mother nature to get expressive, it’s probably for a good cause. Nudibranchs are soft bodies and otherwise defenceless. These intricate patterns serve more of a purpose than just looking pretty!
Did you know?
- Just like their on land relatives, Nudibranchs leave a slime trail.
- Nudibranchs are a type of Gastropod that literally translates to stomach foot. (Pretty accurate description, we think!)
- Nudibranch means “naked gills”. Although they don’t have gills like fish, they have exposed tentacle-like bulges and nodules on their back through which they breathe.
- A nudibranch’s key characteristic is the two horns often confused with eyes or ears on their head known as rhinophores. These pick up chemical clues around them that assist their poor eyesight with finding food.
- Nudibranchs can lay up to 2 million eggs at 1 time! They lay their eggs in spirals or coils of jelly.
This recent sighting was from one of our favourite snorkel locations on the Northern Exposure tour. Still, these fascinating creatures can be found all over the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef.