A Colourful Craze - the humble Nudibranch
August 24, 2019 5:12 PM   Subscribe

"No matter where you dive or who you dive with there will be someone, Instructor, photographer or your average diver, who will be raving about Nudibranches. What are they? Why do they have such a dedicated following? And, indeed, why are they so awesome?"

In discussing the naming of a humble nudibranch. the National Indigenous Times of Australia has an article stating that "scientists are asking for help in naming a new species of flamboyant sea slug which lives on the edge of north-west Australia.It has an impressive display to scare off predators…It has ice blue sausages all over its back, it’s a hermaphrodite, it does an amazing dance when it’s threatened where it waves its sausages around and it goes through a metamorphoses sort of like a butterfly...”

And as Nic of divingwithnic.blogspot.com says, "So remember, next time you're diving and somebody does the nudibranch sign (two fingers like rabbit ears), don't dismiss them, go see the nudibranch and admire its beauty, its resiliance and its importance to the ecosystems around you."
posted by a humble nudibranch (25 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite
I've only ever seen the white ones in the wild, but watching one determinedly marching along a piece of coral at an inchworm pace was one of the cutest things I've seen underwater.
posted by tautological at 5:37 PM on August 24, 2019 [1 favorite]

flamboyant sea slug

Why oh why did I did I go for my boring username?
posted by Dumsnill at 5:52 PM on August 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

A humble nudibranch, you favorited one of my early contributions on MeFi, and I will never forget your username because I saw it, went “whaaaaat?,” searched for info, and learned about Nudibranches. Thank you for putting together this master class in Nudibranchery!
posted by Alterscape at 6:20 PM on August 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

And then there's the terrific Bowiebranchia, which uncannily pairs different nudibranchs with matching photos of David Bowie in various colorful outfits.
posted by lisa g at 6:32 PM on August 24, 2019 [23 favorites]

man i wonder if a humble nudibranch has seen this po—ohhhhhhh
posted by cortex at 6:37 PM on August 24, 2019 [14 favorites]

One of the best videos I have seen on these: Mucky Secrets.
posted by 445supermag at 7:08 PM on August 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Hey, I thought we had a rule against self-promotion! ;)
posted by tobascodagama at 7:18 PM on August 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

OMG, I loooooove nudis. From my last dive trip, I apparently have 150 photos just of nudis. (I'm not a good photographer, just an underwater tourist.) Not only are they often gorgeous, but they have so many cool adaptions.

I really like the aeolids, who feast on stingers like jellyfish and stinging corals, but are immune to the stinging cells. The twist -- the nudis incorporate the stinging cells they eat into their own bodies and use them for defense! What!
posted by ktkt at 7:22 PM on August 24, 2019 [5 favorites]

the self-link rules now only applies to quines, pass it on
posted by cortex at 7:24 PM on August 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

Also, when they lay their eggs, some of them (all? probably not all) lay their eggs in ribbons wound into basically a rose shape, and they can be fancy colors like bright pink.
posted by ktkt at 7:25 PM on August 24, 2019 [2 favorites]

At the amazingly comprehensive Australian Sea Slug Forum, see the Nudibranch Egg Masses discussion, photos, and related posts. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, be sure to turn your screen upside down to view their photos properly.
posted by cenoxo at 8:18 PM on August 24, 2019 [3 favorites]

I learned how to dive in part to fulfil my childhood, Ranger Rick-fueled dreams of seeing nudibranch in the wild. My personal favorite is Nembrotha kubaryana. Most marine animals, especially red ones, aren’t as bright seen in natural light while diving as they are in photos and films because of the way sunlight is absorbed by the water (starting with the shortest red wavelengths and moving down the spectrum as you get deeper). These little guys are if anything even more fluorescent than you could guess from that photo! I love them.
posted by bettafish at 8:27 PM on August 24, 2019 [7 favorites]

A dear friend —not me! I am a truly terrible modeller — has been making these for years. I had no idea what Nudibranches were; so surprisingly beautiful. She’s an avid diver and a truly talented artist. Marula Creative, her studio, has a shop on Etsy. If posting this breaks rules, let me know and delete my post.
posted by lemon_icing at 8:53 PM on August 24, 2019 [8 favorites]

Meet the Scientist Who Has Discovered More Than 1,000 Species of Sea Slug, Bay Nature, Eric Simons, July 31, 2017:
Terry Gosliner found his first new species of sea slug as a teenager in a tidepool at Duxbury Reef in Marin, and then just never stopped. For the last five decades he has discovered sea slugs and sea slugs and more sea slugs, to the point it was recently announced he has discovered his one-thousandth species — or something nearing one-third of the known species of sea slug on the planet.

A curator at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Gosliner has also named around 350 species of sea slug. He has named them after family members, and friends, and colleagues. Gosliner and Academy scientist Rebecca Johnson discovered a Hawaiian nudibranch in the Thorunna genus and named it Thorunna kahuna. Gosliner discovered a very small black-and-white nudibranch and named the five-millimeter-long slug after the largest black-and-white animal he could think of: Philine orca. When naming a new sea slug, he says, “You’ve got to have fun, and humor, and irony. Something scientists could do more of.”
How can you see these little clowns and not smile at their sheer chutzpah of existing at all?
posted by cenoxo at 4:09 AM on August 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

We were at the Natural History Museum in Dublin a week or so ago, and were delighted to see a display case of glass models of the nudibranchs found in Irish waters. I didn't know they were found in such cold environments!
posted by daisyk at 4:18 AM on August 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

My living room wall.
posted by DelusionsofGrandeur at 4:54 AM on August 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

There’s a stationery store in Japan that does fun, nature-themed collaborations with Sailor. They’re difficult to get in the US, which is annoying because look how cute the new nudibranch line is!
posted by rewil at 10:43 AM on August 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

At last. I've been asking for years, and finally someone sends nuds.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:59 AM on August 25, 2019 [8 favorites]

This is not a nudibranch story but it does involve one of their relatives. I used to have a pretty deluxe marine aquarium. One day I saw one of these critters. Over time, there got to be a dozen or so of these guys cruising around in the tank. When the lights came on, they'd chow on algae for an hour or two, then they'd work their way up towards the top of the tank and spend the rest of the "day" absorbing light. At the time, I didn't know why.

It turns out that they practice kleptoplasty. That is, they integrate the chloroplasts from the algae into their little bodies to use to produce energy. Just thinking about that process makes me smile.

Unfortunately at some point, they ate themselves out of existence. There was no more of the algae they liked and used for the kleptoplasty process and they just kind of disappeared. But man, when they were around, it was just cool to see them "bloom" to maximize their exposure to light.

I ended up getting contacted by a German aquarium book publisher who wanted to use my pictures and info in one of their books. So my 15 minutes of fame revolves around fuzzy little sea slugs. And I'm ok with that.
posted by ensign_ricky at 12:13 PM on August 25, 2019 [6 favorites]

Our very own metafilter community helped me identify a nudibranch after I asked "what is this plastic bag like creature I saw in a tidepool" over on AskMe! And even though it was a fairly plain-looking one, the sighting of it and subsequent identification/learning about the existence of nudibranches most definitely made my week. And being a devoted Bowie fan, lisa g, your link and this whole post is making me so happy!
posted by carlypennylane at 2:44 PM on August 25, 2019 [4 favorites]

branch pops up occasionally in names in biology, as you would expect, since it means gill.
I only mention this because it also gave us the old technical name for bivalvia
(clams, mussels, etc) lamellibranchae, which is one of my favorite words.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:39 PM on August 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

They're just delightfully weird, and you don't even have to get wet to encounter them. I spied this Hopkins' Rose zipping around in an inch of water on the beach in Southern California a few months ago.
posted by Scram at 4:50 AM on August 26, 2019 [6 favorites]

It's crazy to me that nudibranchs don't have eyes to see how beautiful they look.
posted by fnerg at 10:02 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just came back from a few months diving around Southeast Asia. We spent a week off the east end of Borneo to dive Sipadan and, as much as I loved seeing all the big stuff out there, it was the countless nudibranches all around Mabul and Kapalai that really excited me. I must have added at least a dozen varieties I'd never seen before to the checklist.
posted by JaredSeth at 10:57 AM on August 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

They even have cool names. Well some of them. I like how on that first link one of them is called a Pink Flabellina and the other one's name id Doris.
posted by jessamyn at 9:37 AM on September 8, 2019 [1 favorite]

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