Friday, February 23, 2007


Ha! Nudibranches in all their sensuous forms, undulating within the embrace of the sea....

What is a nudibranch pray tell? Wikipedia:

These sea slugs are soft-bodied snails. The adult form is without a shell or operculum (a bony plate covering the opening of the shell, when the body is withdrawn).

The word "nudibranch" comes from Latin nudus meaning "naked", and Greek brankhia meaning "gills". The name is appropriate since the dorids (infraclass Anthobranchia) breathe through a branchial plume of bushy extremities on their back, rather than using gills. By contrast, on the back of the aeolids in infraclass Cladobranchia there are brightly colored sets of tentacles called cerata.

Nudibranchs have cephalic (head) tentacles, which are sensitive to touch, taste, and smell. Club-shaped rhinophores detect the odors.

They are hermaphroditic, but can rarely fertilize themselves.

Nudibranchs typically deposit their eggs within a gelatinous spiral.

They are carnivorous. Some feed on sponges, others on hydroids, others on bryozoans, and some are cannibals, eating other sea slugs, or, on some occasions, members of their own species. There is also a group that feeds on tunicates and barnacles.

Body forms can vary wildly. They lack a mantle cavity. Their size varies from 40 to 600 mm.

They occur worldwide at all depths, but they reach their greatest size and variation in warm, shallow waters.

Among them can be found the most colorful creatures on earth. Because sea slugs, in the course of evolution, have lost their shell, they have had to evolve another means of defense: camouflage, through color patterns that make them invisible (cryptic behavior) or warn off predators as being distasteful or poisonous (aposematic behavior). Champions in their colorful display are the Chromodorids. The nudibranchs that feed on hydroids store the hydroid's nematocysts (stinging cells) in the dorsal body wall. This enables the nudibranch to ward off potential predators.

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Why nudibranchs? Got me. Phila of Bouphonia seems to be obsessed with them and posts every Friday.

So I decided we needed a poem:

I never thought I'd like to eat
A nudibranch: a crunchy treat!
Besides them being quite aquatic
I doubt we'd think them so erotic
Dealing with their toxic display
They'd prolly taste better if they were gray.


Anonymous said...

i have a nude. no, really. hit the homepage.

tho the slugs are beautiful i always make sure to visit phila's on friday because he posts some amazing photography links in his friday hope posts.

ellroon said...

RATS! I just realized my set up doesn't allow homepages....

Will hunt you down to see your pic....

Phila said...

Very nice! Plus, now when people ask me for nudi info, I can direct 'em here.

Why nudibranchs? Got me.

I studied them briefly in a college marine biology class about 25 years ago, and was impressed enough that I bought some books of photos.

Made them an obvious choice when I was looking for what the marketers called an "unfilled niche" in Friday creature blogging.

ellroon said...

We are in your debt, then. I had no idea these little butterflies of the deep existed...

Steve Bates said...

Splendid rhymes, ellroon!

ellroon said...

Thanks Steve! It's dangerous to encourage me too much though!

(The word 'display' is a clunker ...jammed it in to get it done.)