Two little beauties

I used to work in the Marine Invertebrate section of the South Australian Museum, and the curator and his assistants (including me) would go on field trips to get specimens, especially for our marine tank. This was not on display to the public, but I quickly learnt that marine tanks are fussy to look after and can turn into a stinky mess overnight.

We’d get rocks with lots of weeds and put them in the tank. It was always exciting to come in the next morning and see what had crawled out – especially nudibranchs.

We’d bottle them up in formaldehyde and send them off to the expert at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Bob Burn, who often discovered that many of these were new to science. He had the fun and privilege of describing and naming them. There’s no windowii, though.

It’s still exciting for me to see a nudibranch, and these days there are many websites, books and CD-ROMS available to help with ID.

Here are two new – for me – nudibranchs from Flat Rock last weekend. They were both about 2 cm long.

Plocamopherus imperialis on a half-shell

You’ll notice the pink protuberances, called papillae, on Plocampherus. Apparently in another species in this group, when the animal is disturbed, some of these produce flashes of light – bioluminescence. Must go down to the reef one night and poke one to see if it happens in this species!

Plocamopherus imperialis - note the spread of the naked gills at the back

Hypselodoris maritima

Hypselodoris maritima

No wonder they are called “the jewels of the sea”!

6 thoughts on “Two little beauties

    • You and me both! And luckily lots of other people, although it’s a bit overwhelming paging through websites and books to find the ID. Better than not having these fantastic resources, though. There’s even an app for Australian nudis – very convenient to carry around as long as you don’t drop the iThing in the water.

  1. Thanks, Kath! I was hoping to show you some of these “live” last time you visited, but we didn’t manage that. I took some US friends there recently, and the finds were OK but not as good as I’d hoped. Then weekend after (once they’d gone) we found these and big live shells and 5 octopuses! Gah!

  2. I’ve seen pictures of maritima before. What a thrill that must have been for you to see it in the wild for the first time. A very handsome sea slug, indeed! Looks like you’ve have some highly rewarding tidepooling of late… must pack my bags for a visit…

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