Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sea Slugs Galore!

The science center isn't a huge aquarium with many rooms and gigantic tanks, but what it may lack in size, it more than makes up for in amazing marine life diversity. Since moving to the west coast from the east coast, I've been astounded at all the different types of marine life here. One of the animals that has awed me are nudibranchs, which I adoringly call nudies.
 
Monterey Sea Lemon
Many people refer to nudibranchs as sea slugs since that is what most of them look like, act like, and feel like. The Pacific NW has about 200 species, but worldwide there are around 6,000 species. Books I have read describe them as the most colorful animals in the world, some so beautiful that it is hard to believe they are real. There are some pretty creative names as well, such as the shaggy mouse, which we have several of here at the science center. Our nudie collection also includes the Monterey Sea Lemon, Hooded Nudibranch, Clown Dorid, Frosted Nudibranch, Red-Gilled Dorid, and there are potentially others that we don't even know about yet, who have traveled through our pipes.   
 
Hooded Nudibranch
Many nudibranchs have incredible defense mechanisms where they can eat their prey, such as a sponge or an anemone, and are able to retain the sponge's spicules or an anemone's stinging cells and use those cells or spicules to defend themselves from their predators.  
Frosted Nudibranch
Red-gilled Nudibranch
There are many other interesting facts as well, so stop by the Science Center before season's end to check out these wonderful animals in person!
P.S. The pronunciation of nudibranch is "new-duh-brank."

Claudia Padilla, Summer/Fall Intern




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