Nudibranchs

Japan's Kinki: Macro Mecca of Honshu

Magnificent Miamira (Miamira magnifica), Kinki, Japan. Photo by Andy Murch.

Kinki is a ruggedly beautiful peninsula in the southwest of Honshu, Japan. The area is best known for the Shinto shrines of Kumano, which sit atop forested mountains in the center of the region. Each year, thousands of tourists and devotees undertake a pilgrimage through the mountains to reach the tranquil sanctuary, which is said to be a place of physical healing.

The nudibranch Fjordia chriskaugei, Gulen Dive Resort, Norway

Nudibranchs named after Gulen Dive Resort and friends

Over the years, new species have been found and existing species have been moved to other genera while other species are new. Thus, our colleague Christian Skauge writes that the Flabellina family has now gone "extinct" in Norway because the species therein have now been reclassified and put into other genera.

Nudibranch Macro: Going Beyond the ID Photo

Cyerce sp. Any of the sacoglosid slugs pose a challenge to photograph due to transparency and the manner in which they move. In “herky-jerky, stop-start” movements, the cyerce lunges forward then stops, flopping its cerata over its facial features. Just as your camera focuses, it repeats the movement again. Photo by Mike Bartick.

Nudibranchs are a worldwide favorite for macro photographers, often leading divers on a “wild slug hunt” across the globe. Once these little gems capture your attention, it is very hard to break out of their magic spell. A gateway critter, if there ever was one, the nudibranch combines the beauty of our ocean and natural history in a photogenic and scientific symphony like no other marine animal.

Elysia chlorotica, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (CC BY 2.0)
Elysia chlorotica, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (CC BY 2.0)

Solar-Powered Sea Slug

Genes supporting photosynthesis have been acquired by the animal via horizontal gene transfer.

Some related slugs also engulf chloroplasts but E. chlorotica alone preserves the little green photosynthetic organelles called chloroplasts, from the algae it eats in working order for a whole slug lifetime of nearly a year. The slug readily sucks the innards out of algal filaments whenever they’re available, but in good light, multiple meals aren’t essential.

Nudibranch Safari

The 2012 Nudibranch Safari at Gulen Dive Resort was a phenomenal success. A staggering 49 species of nudibranchs and seven other ophistobranchs were identified during the weekend—on one divespot.

Expectations ran high as 16 participants from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the Faroe Islands gathered at Gulen Dive Resort north of Bergen in Norway to look for nudibranchs the last weekend in March.

Naked Beauties

Most divers have seen them. Weird-looking crawling creatures with odd shapes, antennae and amorphous bodies and draped in pychedelic colours. We are not talking about aliens from outer space but nudibranchs.

But why do they have to look so weird?