Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nudibranch (Sea Slug), the Beauty but Shy

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Do you ever heard a word ‘sea slug’? yes I guess.. but, how about see this animal with your own eyes ? or touching him? Naah, this article will describing all about sea slug. Sea slug are look likes a teresterial snail but they haven’t a shell, and also, sea slug have a various color that make them so beautiful. Sea slug has another popular name, called Nudibranch. Because of their beauty color pattern and fantastic coloration nudibranch deserve to be called gems of the sea and should inspire jewelry designers (they shouldn't be called "slugs"). Only some polyclad marine flatworms can rival their beauty, although the latter have simpler body architecture. Finding a new nudibranch is always a very special and exciting moment. Nature's boundless creativity, that produced these unpredictable forms and color patterns, keeps surprising and stimulating your imagination.
Nudibranchs cannot be taken away or preserved - they loose their shape and colors. This protects the beautiful creatures from the risk of being fished out by tourists, collectors or for sale. The best way to bring a nudibranch home with you is to take a photograph. They cannot be kept in an aquarium because of their narrow dietary range and maybe other factors (microelements, system stability etc). Even in the sea they are more or less confined within special micro-environments, providing them with specific food and micro-conditions. Reconstructing such micro-environment artificially is a complex research challenge. Therefore, the best way to see them is in their natural habitat - the ocean.

The zoologist, classified this animal into Gastropods class, in phylum of Mollusk. As all other gastropods, they are slow moving bottom dwellers. They have soft bodies and most of them lack an external protective shell. Their secondary gills are exposed outside, as reflected by their neo-latin/greek name "nudibranch" meaning "nude/naked gills". Some nudibranchs have numerous body projections (called "cerata") increasing the overall body surface and enhancing breathing. Nudibranchs carry a pair of horn-like cephalic tentacles or "rhinophores" at the front, that are used primarily as chemosensory organs (sensing chemicals). To protect themselves from predators many developed toxic or bad tasting glands in the skin, and their bright colors warn predators of their horrible taste. Aeolid nudibranchs developed another amazing strategy to protect themselves from predators. They extract nematocysts from the coelenterates on which they feed and store them in the special sacs at the tips of their ceratas called cnidosacs. Nematocysts, located in the specialized cells "nematocytes" of coelenterates, are the stinging weapons used for catching food and for defence. Aeolids steal these weapons and discharge them when needed in their own defence.

The pictures below is an example of Nudibranch and also their anatomical diagram, that I have collected from the internet:


what do you think? So beautiful right? Not only have a fantastic color, in order to camouflage from their enemy, nudibranch also can manipulate their body color follow the color of their environment. Hemmmm, the beauty but shy.

-Personal experience
- http://www.seaslug.org.uk/nudibranchs/anatomy.html
- http://id.wikipedia.org/
- http://www.sergeyphoto.com/underwater/nudibranchs.html
- Microsoft Encarta Premium

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