Friday, February 27, 2009


[Originally posted to the Moorea Coral Reef LTER (MCR LTER) Marine Life Encyclopedia]

(Suborder Nudibranchia)

Nudibranchs - Suborder Nudibranchia
Photo by Gerick Bergsma

There are thousands of species of nudibranchs broken into two main types.  The dorid nudibranchs are distinguished by the cluster of feather-like “branchial plumes” (gills) on their backs.  The aeolid nudibranchs lack the clustered branchial plumes, but instead have larger cerata all along their backs.

Nudibranchs are found world-wide

Nudibranchs are found on almost any marine habitat

Most nudibranchs are specialist carnivores, preferring sponges, cnidarians, bryozoans, tunicates or mollusks (including other nudibranchs).

Quick Fact
Nudibranchs often get more than just nutrition from their prey.  For example, nudibranchs that feed on cnidarians (eg. anemones) are able to consume their prey without triggering their nematocytes (stinging cells), and can then integrate the stinging cells into their own tissues to use for in defense.  Similarly, other nudibranchs are able to acquire photosynthetic algae (zooxanthellae) from their prey, enabling them to gain energy from sunlight.  One species has gone even further, incorporating chloroplasts directly from algae to become the only known animal to directly photosynthesize.

Learn More
- Sea Slug Forum

- Moorea Biocode Database

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