If you did not know, nudibranchs are molluscs, specifically from the Gastropoda class. As it is common in that specie, nudibranchs have, at some point of their lives, a shell. This happens when they are still a larve, while they grow up the shell disappears. During their adult lives they don’t really need that shell. Even though it could be considered as good protection for those tiny creatures. But the truth is that adult nudibranchs produce a toxin to protect themselves from other animals. This is one of the reasons why these slugs are so colorful, so their predators know what they’re facing. However, humans should not be worried about that because their poison is not a threat for us.
Scientist have discovered around 3000 species of nudibranchs so far, but they are sure we are going to discover more in the next years. From pink and blue to orange and green, nudibranchs can vary in color as well as in length. Places where you can see them aren’t specific, you can find them either in deep cold or warm waters. So wherever you want to dive look for them, who knows, maybe you are able to find a new specie!
Searching for those small animals can be an arduous but a rewarding job. It is probable that you find them on the bottom of the reef or around algae . So on your next dive be alert and look around and see if you can spot one.
At this point, you may be wondering how reproduction works with these creatures. Nudibranchs are an hermaphrodite specie, which means an individual has both masculine and feminine reproduction systems, isn’t it amazing? they lay about 1 to 6 egg masses in anti-clockwise spirals, some containing up to two million at a time. As most nudibranchs do not live longer than a year, this number of eggs is essential.
It is also important to take into account that there are two types of nudibranchs: The dorid and the eolid ones. Where as the dorid nudibranchs breathe through gills that are on their posterior (back) end, while the eolid nudibranchs have cerata – finger-like appendages that cover their back
If one of the things you love the most is underwater photography, nudibranchs are amazing models for your shots. In case you are thinking about coming to dive in Costa Rica, we will help you spot these little creatures as we encounter different ones on a daily base.. If photography is your thing we’ll make sure you have the time necessary for your pictures.
nudibranchs are blind
some are solar powered (living off the sugars produced by the sun)
most are very small but the Spanish Dancer can be as big as a loaf of bread
The Spanish Dancer eats jelly fish to assimilate their poison to use as protection
some types have cannibalistic features and eat their kin ( usually different species)
24% of natural medicine against cancer comes from nudibranchs
Some are on our menu but I heard they are rather chewy, so I guess they will never end up on my plate!