Sunday, June 22, 2014

Nudibranch 1

To be honest, I had no idea what a nudibranch was before this trip.  There are more than 3,000 types - and I saw at least a dozen, probably more, in Raja Ampat.  They come in all kinds of vibrant colors and sizes - most are quite small.  By the end of the trip I could find some on my own but at first, I couldn't spot them without our guides!  Most look like they were designed by Dr. Suess!

A nudibranch is a soft mollusk with no shell.  We most often saw them in warm, shallow reefs.  They were so cool that I hated to leave them each time we found them - but there was so much else to see!

The first nudibranch I saw was the first day, and it was very near the surface, swimming by furling a fringe-like edge around it's snail like self.  I spent a good amount of time trying to get some pictures of it.  As you can see, at first it appeared to be something floating like a dead leaf - in fact the coloring was close to the coloring of a leaf, as shown.  It would have been easy to miss if looking at the coral not far below.

Upon closer inspection, the beautiful coloration and delicate body became apparent:


After our guide pointed it out, those of us with cameras (7 people on this tour, 4 with cameras) tried to take photos.  I ended up with a few shots of other cameras, but I thought it was interesting how close the cameras got without disturbing the nudibranch. (Fellow traveler shown taking a shot).

Here's a size comparison with my hand (at guide's suggestion of course, I never touched anything without her permission and very few things all trip).  What I love about this shot though is that it is the closest I got to being able to show the beautiful, graceful flowing way that the creature swam.

Such a cool creature!!!  Here are some awesome photos of nudibranch, NOT taken by me!

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