Creature Feature – Nudibranch
This week’s featured creature is the Nudibranch. Nudibranchs, also called sea slugs, are shell-less marine molluscs. There are over 3,000 species found across the world’s oceans. Some species are known for their extraordinary colours, and have been given fun nicknames to match, such as “sea goddess”, “splendid”, “dragon”, “painted” or ‘dancer”.
Nudibranch Fact File
Size: They are small animals, often ranging from 0.5-6cm in length and can weigh up to 1.5kg
Distribution: Nudibranchs occur in seas worldwide, ranging from the Arctic, through temperate and tropical regions, to the Southern Ocean around Antarctica
Diet: All known nudibranchs are carnivorous. They have a set of curved teeth, which they use to eat coral, sponges, and fish eggs off the ocean floor
Behaviour: Nudibranchs are hermaphroditic, but they cannot fertilize themselves. They lack a shell that can be used for protection from predators so they must defend themselves in other ways. Some use camouflage to blend in with their environments, while others use very bright and contrasting colors to signal a warning to predators and some can even use a variety of chemical defences to aid in protection
IUCN Status: Least Concern. Most nudibranch species are not threatened. However, as many rely on coral reefs for habitat, they depend highly on their persistence