NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Dendronotus Rufus

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. My hope is that you, too, will fall in love with these colorful little critters. November’s supermodel is (drumroll, please):

Dendronotus Rufus

This month I’d like to change things up a bit with a little quiz called:


I’ll show you an image and you have to guess if it’s FLORA (a plant) or FAUNA (an animal).





Let’s go!


Wait a minute…

Let’s take

a closer look

at that one…



Wait a minute…

That’s our November Pin-Up,

Dendronotus Rufus!

Dendronotus Rufus is really good at blending in with their environment. They have long branched papillae and rhinophores making them appear more like stationary soft coral than a mobile nudibranch. Pretty tricky, D. Rufus!

Thanks for playing my game! Here are the correct answers:

#1 Fauna

Starfish might move uber-slow, but they are definitely animals.

#2 Fauna

This beautiful delicate little thing is called a Christmas Tree Worm. When they sense danger they tuck inside themselves, making it seem as if they have suddenly disappeared.

#3 Fauna

This is a sea sponge. Like a plant, they are fixed in one place, but because they do not synthesize their own food, they are animals. Nutrient-rich water flows through them providing them with the sustenance they require to live.

#4 Flora

Yup. This is sea grass. Sea grass can grow in clusters creating dense underwater meadows. The fluffy stuff is algae, also considered flora.

#5 Fauna

These are garden eels. They float up from their burrows and wave in the currents collecting food. In this position a colony of garden eels looks very much like sea grass. But when they are threatened they slide down into their burrows quickly making you wonder what happened to all the “grass.”

#6 Fauna

Soft corals are colonial organisms, which means they are formed of colonies of polyps. This is a species of soft coral known as Dendronephythya. It consumes phytoplankton. I think you can see from this friendly fauna where Dendronotus Rufus gets their name.

#7 Fauna

Last, but certainly not least, we have Dendronotus Rufus. Definitely an animal and a delightfully unusual one to be sure.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the beautiful and bizarre Dendronotus Rufus and all their fauna friends. Stay tuned for December’s NUDI GILL PIN-UP with a special holiday gift from me.


Bonnie Kelso writes and illustrates books for children and adults that encourage individualism and brave self-expression. She facilitates art workshops for her local community and beyond. Her debut picture book, NUDI GILL, will be released in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she can be found wandering about outside with her family whenever a good opportunity to do so presents itself.

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