Nudibranchs are one of natures most exotic animals, true beauties, with over 3000 known species, it is a wonder more people have not heard of them.
The Nudibranch is one type of Sea Slug, noted for its’ beauty and.. well thats about it, because it isn’t even a sea creature that a lot of people are aware of. These are soft bodied creatures, with no bones to force them into one shape or another, and they come in a massive variety of colors, most of which are bright. They are basically mollusks without the benefits of having shells. In size they are relatively small, the largest getting no bigger than 12 inches, or 31centimeters at full size, most being smaller than 4 inches or 10 centimeters. Pronounce it “Nude – a – brank”
This particular one looks a bit like a lovely pastry in a French Shop, however one only has to look in tidal pools to find these tiny creatures, although they can be found anywhere in the oceans, they often use their colors and textures to camouflage in the coral reefs. The tones and colors on this animals are remarkable.
These Nudibranchs look like something from an alien film, I mean seriously have you ever even considered that we had things like this alive on our planet? Because I really don’t think you did. You might say you did, but I doubt you did. You probably didn’t and just think you did. They feed on poisonous jelly fish and store the poison for their own use.
Like something out of a space cartoon, this animal is interesting in shape and color. I just love the way its’ tentacles are being swept backward, making it look like it is a little alien race car, but in fact the photo was taken against a strong current, which cause this charming appearance.
The colors on this particular critter are stunning, but so is this fact about them. They are hermaphrodites, being both male and female at the same time. They lay eggs and can fertilize themselves, but rarely do. Their lifespans vary, from one short month to about a year.
Although the photograph lacks the clarity of some of the other pictures, you can see how marvelous this animal is and admire it for the dainty appearance it has. One can imagine how small this animal is.
It is interesting to note as well that since they have no bones or shell, we have very little information on them in terms of evolution from the past.
Another one that looks like it could have come out of a French Pastry shop. I really like French Pastry, but I also like nudibranchs, although not suitable for eating. Now, you might be wondering what do they eat? As sweet and innocent as they appear, they are carnivores, as mentioned above, some even make a point of eating poisonous jelly fish. Occasionally they are canibalistic, but this is uncommon.
This one is another beauty, almost translucent. Then again I have not seen what could be described as an ugly Nudibranch. I suppose these animals are lucky that their bodies are only soft tissue, otherwise man would surely have found a way to turn them into a wearable item.
This one looks a bit like a swimming lollipop stand, again this is not an animal most people would have thought already existed and probably would have figured it to be some alien creature from another world. The way these animals evolved to make them so diverse is a wonder unto itself.
Well that covers my brief look at these wonderful animals that most people were not even aware of. If you live near the ocean I encourage you to poke around in the tidal pools and look for these little beings. When you do go looking for them consider this, there are already over 3000 identified species of Nudibranchs, but many more are being discovered daily, will you be the first to find a new species?
The first photograph, and the last two, were from Flickr, the others were from Wikimedia, you should check licensing agreements before reuse of any photos.