Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More Saipan Nudibranchs

Nudibranchs are related to marine snails.  Although they are related, they do not have shells as thy shed them before they become adults.  They are amazingly varied and colorful, and people around the world "collect" them in pictures.  The name "nudibranch" means naked branch because of their exposed gills.  People more commonly call them "sea slugs" which is not a very flattering name.  Interestingly, the Japanese call them umi ushi meaning "sea cow" because they have head tentacles that look like horns.  These are sensory organs called rhinopores.

You can find a few nudis in the shallow waters of Saipan's beaches.  You just have to look carefully since they are very small, and although quite colorful, they are camouflaged well in the marine environment.  This is the Elysia ornata I found a few weeks ago in Obyan Beach.   
I found a few more this weekend that I would like to share.  I do not have an underwater camera and couldn't get a picture of the Thuridilla gracilis that I saw in Obyan last week.  I did manage to find another one at Coral Ocean Point.
She was strikingly beautiful and only about 15 millimeters long. 
Can you tell how tiny she is from the size of the sand grains in the picture?  Tiny!
Another really common nudi is Plakobranchus ocellatus that has purple and lavender spots.  I guess that is why they named it after an ocelot.  I only had a camera phone with me, so sorry if the pictures aren't that great.
They are a lot bigger than the T. gracilis, at about 30mm long and 10mm wide.  I found a few of them in the shallow reef flat of Wing Beach.

I think they must be pretty common here since I always happen upon them at several shallow beaches.  You can check out more nudibranch information and look at beautiful pictures in Nudipixel where a few of my friends have contributed their finds from Guam and Saipan. 

I think these maybe are the more common shallow water nudibranchs around here but I will keep an eye out for others.  Thanks for talking stories again.

Ti napu.
The Beachcomber


Sean said...

Someone needs to get BeachComber an underwater video camera!

Actually your photos of the nudis you found in shallow water are quite good. All the one's I'd seen photos of were from divers so I didn't know they could be found in the shallows.

Bev said...

I heart nudibranchs and you! Let's go diving!

The Beachcomber said...

I heart Sean & Bev! Thanks for continuing to talk stories with me :)

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Hugo Costa said...

I guys,

Check the nudibranch page at
a comprehensive catalogue of marine species to sea lovers.

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