The sea is a vast and beautiful wasteland teeming with life. Among the crazy and bizarre things that live in the ocean’s depth’s is the Nudibranch (ˈnjuːdɨbræŋk‘). Nudibranchs are small Sea Slugs that slime their way along the ocean floor looking for food. Their diets contain mostly sea sponges, anemones, hydroids, barnacles and sometimes corals. Nudibranchs are incredibly specific and picky animals. They will usually only eat one kind of food for their entire life, if they cannot find this food they will starve to death, which is a slow death since they are slow animals and use very little nutrients enameling them to go for weeks without eating. This is also a reason why they are very hard to keep as pets, since they do not change their diet to accommodate what is offered but simply starve to death instead. Sometimes there will be a mix up at pet stores and they will be marketed as ‘algae eaters’, there are only a few very specific Nudibranch’s that eat algae.
There are over 3’000 species of Nudibranch’s discovered so far. Within the large number of Nudibranch’s there are very many incredible coloration’s and adaptation’s. One of the favorites among marine biologists for their spectacular color’s, is the Spanish Shawl (Fig 1). There are two known types of Nudibranch’s, The Dorid Nudibranch and the Aeolid Nudibranch. They are mostly differentiated by their looks (depicted in fig 4). Some other interesting things are that they all have different smells. Some, like the Hooded Nudibranch (fig 2) smell like watermelons, while some like the Noble Sea Lemon (fig 3) are said to have a citrus odour.
Fig 1 Spanish Shawl Nudibranch
fig 2 (Hooded Nudibranch)
fig 3 (Noble Sea Lemon)
Fig 4 (Comparrison between Aeolod and Dorid)
After spending the small amount of time with these incredible animals, I for one, can say that these small – possibly insignificant animals – are incredible to watch and study, and hopefully one day, we will know enough about them to satisfy many people’s thirst for knowledge.