not a nudibranch

Valentine’s Day is coming up, but this is no ordinary rose – it’s a Hopkins’ rose! 

This bright pink sea slug can be spotted in the tidepools of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. When tidepooling in search of these little invertebrates, tread lightly! Tidepools are fragile habitats and it’s all too easy to crush their tiny inhabitants. 

(Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)

Unidentified sea slug with some attractive orange horns.Most creatures known as sea slugs are actually snails, i.e. they are sea snails (marine gastropod mollusks) that over evolutionary time have lost their shells, or have a greatly reduced shell or an internal shell. The name “sea slug” is most often applied to nudibranchs, as well as to a paraphyletic set of other marine gastropods without obvious shells.

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Nudibranch - a variety of slow moving sea slug, living its life in the ocean

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A beautiful Elysia expansa, a species of opisthobranch (closely related to nudibranchs), also known as a sap-sucking sea slug. These group of sea slugs will store chloroplasts from their food sources for later use and digestion. By piercing the algae cells, they suck in the chloroplasts from the algae and are able keep them intact. By doing so, the chloroplasts will still photosynthesise, producing sugars as an extra food source for the host sea slug. These chloroplasts also give the animal it’s green colour.

This individual spread out while taking photos, showing just how much surface area the individual can form to maximise how much sunshine it could catch for the chloroplasts to react to.

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time lapse of hooded nudibranch feeding

#nudibranch #marinebiology

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