NAME THAT SPECIES: Nudibranchs

Maybe Squirtle and Bulbasaur had a baby or God pulled a Pollack with his paint brush. This bottom-dwelling, shell-less mollusk is one of the reef’s strangest inhabitants.

Nudibranchs come in all shapes and sizes – thick and flat, long and short, colorful or plain. They get their color from the food they eat, allowing them to camoflogue themselves amongst their surroundings.

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The weirdest part? They’re carnivores that survive on algae, sponges, anemones, corals, and barnacles. Since they don’t have shells, they use their tentacles called rhinophores on the top of their heads to identify prey (this definitely sounds like a Pokemon).

They’re also “solar powered”, meaning that they store photosynthesized algae in their outer tissues and feed off of that sugar. It doesn’t look like Nudibranchs will go hungry anytime soon.

Nudibranchs are pretty weird when they move. Someone was kind enough to set this video to Spanish music:

Nudibranchs go both ways – the’re simultaneous hermaphrodites and engage in orgy-like mating activity with any mature member of their species. Their scientific name means “naked gills”, which has no relevance to their method of sexual reproduction, but I thought it was only right to put it here.

Based on their blob-like shapes, I cannot even fathom how that is possible. Apparently new types of Nudibranchs are discovered on the daily, so something is working.

Here is a (relevant?) comparison of a Nudibranch to a teacup, courtesy of National Geographic:

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More than 3.000 known species exist. They don’t live long, though. Their average life span in the wild is only one year!

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