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Nudibranch - The Toxic Rainbows Of The Sea
A Nude What?
Nudibranch, think "NEW-dih-bronk", are soft-bodied mollusks and are related to snails and slugs. However Nudibranches do not have shells.The word "nudibranch" comes from the Latin nudus, naked, and the Greek brankhia, gills in reference to the exposed branch-like gills found on many of them. Nudibranchs are found in oceans around the world. Their means of defence are camouflage, toxic secretions or stinging cells. The rainbow of bright colours that many wear is a warning to predators that they are in for a mouthful of bad news!.
Blind? No Problem
Nudibranch have very small eyes that only sense light and dark so they are basically blind. However that is not a problem because of their horn-like protrusions called rhinophores. They use them to taste, smell and feel the ocean around them. They detect chemicals that tell the Nudibranch everything it needs to know, like where food is and where other Nudibranchs are.
Photo by: Christopher Bradford
Nudibranches are carnivores and many are able to eat what other sea creatures can't. Sea creatures that contain stinging toxins, like the anenome or soft corals, are eaten by the nudibranchs which then converts or use the toxins for it's own defence.
Nudibranch Eating Nudibranch!
Some Nudibranch are cannibals! They will eat other smaller Nudibranch and sometimes even their own species.
**WARNING: Not for the squeamish! **
How Many Nudibranch Does it take to Change a Lightbulb?
Okay, maybe they can't change a lightbulb, but some of them act like solar cells! Some Nudibranchs contain a type of algae in their transparent bodies, which when exposed to sunlight produce nutrients which the Nudibrach then uses for energy!
What On Earth?
"These bright and colorful natural history picks are highly recommended for elementary-level readers in grades 2-4: bright color photos and captivating facts encourage learning."
~ Scientific American
Colorful Nudibranch, Nembrotha Species
Nudibranchs come in incredible variety of colours and patterns. Blue with yellow dots, green
and black, red and purple,
white with yellow accents, the list goes on and on. Suffice it
to say that if you can imagine it, there's probably a
Nudibranch to fit the bill.
Blue with Yellow Spots Nudibranch or Sea Slug, Phyllidia Varicosa, Solomon Islands
Nudibranchs from Japan
Pyjama Nudibranch or Sea Slug in the Red Sea, Ras Mohammed National Park, Egypt
Nudibranch by Jean-Michel Cousteau
So You Think You Can Dance?
The Sex Life of The Nudibranch - Adults Only!
Nudibranch are hemaphrodites which means they possess both male and female sex organs. This means they can mate with any other nudibranch of their species.