Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Unusual Marine Sightinhs - Nudibranchs

The new phase is only a few days old but the dive training is well underway and we have been out on the boat enjoying what has been some of the calmest water we have had all year. With visibility of over 30m and bright blue skies we could not have hoped for better diving conditions.

Although the focus has been on training, already we have made some new discoveries in the bay. With so much megafauna in the area the smaller inhabitants of the reef often get overlooked, but this phase some eagle-eyed expedition members have found a number of different species of nudibranch.

Nudibranchs or ‘sea slugs’ as they are commonly known are found in all waters around the world. The name Nudi-branch comes from the Greek for naked gills and refers to the feather-like breathing appendages located on the back of some individuals. They range in size from the miniscule to a hefty 30cm in the case of the Spanish Dancer, a nocturnal species common in the waters of the Seychelles.

The Spanish Dancer is so called because of its undulating swimming motion.

Phyllidia ocellata is common in the waters around the Seychelles.

Though known, as ‘sea slugs’ don’t be fooled by the name, Nudi’s as we like to call them are found in a variety of vibrant colours and shapes. Some are predators while others are vegetarian and can often be seen crawling over there favourite choice of food. When you take the time out to look for them these wonderful little reef creatures can easily be found and provide a further splash of colour to the reef environment.