Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Noble lemon, shaggy mouse, and little Doris

Those are all nudibranchs. Aka sea slugs. And one, the noble lemon nudibranch, was definitely sluggish when I woke her up from her afternoon nap.

Peltodoris nobilis, the noble sea lemon.

When I turned over her stone, she was just a circular yellowish blob, not moving, almost looking like a mass of eggs. I took photos of the sea cucumbers I found under her stone, and looked at crabs, then went to replace the stone. But now, she was awake, and stretching out, s l o w l y, s l o w l y.

Now I could see a bump on one end (on the right, above); one of her two sensory organs, the rhinopores, still retracted.  I waited, took photos, measured her (2 inches, still half hunched up), waited some more. Finally, the circle of gills at the back started to expand, millimetre by millimetre. I took pity on her, then, there exposed in the sunlight and air, and carefully flipped the stone back onto the wet sand. She probably went right back to sleep.

She feeds on several species of sponges, when she's awake. No rush; they're not going anywhere.

On the underside of another stone just below the mid-intertidal zone, a group of small barnacle-eating dorids were sitting around the table.

Onchidoris bilamellata, with barnacles, some already eaten. The tiny nudibranchs drill through their shell to get at the meat.

Zooming in. I don't see the two rhinopores at the front end. At the rear (lower right on the bottom nudi here), are the feathery gills. 

And I found a shaggy mouse laying eggs.

Shaggy mouse, aka shag rug nudibranch, sea-mouse, Aeolida papillosa. With eggs. Front end, lower right.

The shaggy mouse eats anemones, mostly the stinging tentacles. She doesn't get stung, but saves the stinging cells and moves them to her shaggy cerata to serve as a defense. A slow, soft-bodied, sluggish creature needs that extra bit of protection in a world full of hungry crabs and fish.

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