NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Phylliroe

I bet you’ve been wondering, “Where’s April’s NUDI GILL PIN-UP?” If you haven’t, I understand. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, so it’s easy to forget that we share this planet with tiny creatures that have no concept of politics, inflation, or the latest TikTok dance challenge.

If you’re new to the PIN-UPS, I am blogging every month until the release of my debut picture book, NUDI GILL by Gnome Road Publishing. I am excited to announce that the book’s release will be delayed until March 2023. Why am I excited? Because this means I can share with you SIX additional NUDI GILL PIN-UPS! WOO-HOO!!!

I know everyone’s busy, so I will keep this one short and sweet. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to April’s open sea supermodel pirate:

Phylliroe

Okay, so there’s a lot to unpack with this nudibranch. When they are babies, they attach themselves to the underside of a jellyfish’s bell and feed like a parasite. They’re kind of like a pirate aboard a ship. Except this pirate munches on the ship (which is alive) until the pirate grows bigger than the ship and then eventually eats the rest of the sails, rigging and even the anchor until there’s nothing left. With a full belly, the pirate then swims along its merry way. They spend their adult life chasing additional ships (jellies/food) on the open seas. Yo Ho Ho! ‘Tis the life, indeed!

This incredible nudibranch is rigged with a flat fishy tail so it can…

Swim like a fish!

Check Them out in action!

The Phylliroe nudibranch is pelagic, which means it lives in the sea column as opposed to near a reef or on the ocean floor. It can easily be swept up in currents, which explains why these critters are found just about everywhere in the ocean.

Here’s a cool old drawing of one. The long spaghetti-like shapes coming from the head are the nudibranch’s rhinophores.

Lydekker R. (ed.) (1896). The royal natural history.

© Mark Norman / Museum Victoria,
http://portphillipmarinelife.net.au/species/5674

DID YOU KNOW?

Did you know that another name for a jellyfish is medusa? The name comes from the gorgon, Medusa, from Greek Mythology. She was the daughter of the sea god, Phorcus. With venomous snakes for hair, she is usually depicted as being beautiful and terrifying at the same time. If mortals looked at her they would turn to stone.

Poor little sea jellies. They get such a bad rap.


Another cool thing about Phylliroe nudibranchs is that they are bioluminescent. That means they have enzymes in their body that can produce light. Glow in the dark, nudibranchs?

Wonders never cease!

Thank you for taking the time to get to know April’s awesome NUDI GILL PIN-UP, Phylliroe. Stay tuned for May’s magnificent supermodel.

Ahoy, mateys!

Bonnie

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, releases in March, 2023. A lover of nature and travel, she often wanders about outside with her family whenever an excellent opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Elysia Chlorotica

To prepare for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I am blogging about nudibranchs monthly. I hope you will fall in love with these little critters. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to March’s fascinating leprechaun-like supermodel:

Elysia Chlorotica

Karen N. Pelletreau et al. – Creative Commons

What just moved in my lucky charms?

This month I just had to deviate from nudibranchs to bring you this special sap-sucking sea slug. Try saying that five times in a row! But, really, who better to feature on St. Patrick’s Day than a creature that looks like a green leaf?

Mary Tyler—Mary Rumpho/University of Maine

This sea slug reminds me of my game: Flora or Fauna?

So what is Elysia Chlorotica?

A plant (flora) or an animal (fauna)?

Dare I say… both?

This little creature, unlike nudibranchs which are carnivores, is truly solar powered. Like a plant. If you don’t believe me, here’s an awesome TEDx presentation by a real scientist, Sidney Pierce. He also talks about the potential for advancements in gene therapy because of what we can learn from this tiny creature. Just a warning, he does say a four-letter word twice (the “s” one), so parents beware. I’m sure he couldn’t help it. It’s pretty exciting science!



This sea slug is green becaue it has chloroplasts inside it. Chloroplasts are the organelles inside plant cells that synthesize sunlight into energy. Chloroplasts are not in animals, they are in plants. Elysia Chlorotica gets their chloroplsats from the algae they eat. But when the sea slug eats the chloroplasts, they are not digested, they keep working!

Figure 1. [Source. © Patrick J. Krug, Creative Commons CC BY-NC 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons]

Not only does this creature behave like a plant, but it looks like one. Imagine if we could just lie in the sun for a few hours to charge our batteries? This is what these guys can do. They can live without food for a whole year because of these functioning chloroplasts inside their bodies.


What kind of music do Sea slugs that look like clovers prefer?

(Answer at end of post.)


When an Elysia Chlorotica is born, it muches on algae. But once it has synthesized the chloroplasts it doesn’t need to eat anymore. There’s a great word for this process: kleptoplasty. It means chloroplast robbery. Cute little thieves they are!

Would you trust a face like this?

These sea slugs can be found in shallow waters along the east coast of North America. When they want to “feed” they simply unfurl their leaf-like body like some kind of organic solar panel and soak up the rays!


Answer:

SHAMROCK!


Thank you for taking time to get to know March’s NUDI GILL PIN-UP, Elysia Chlorotica. Next time you come across a one leaf clover, check it for a head!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! Stay tuned for April’s awesome NUDI GILL PIN-UP.

May the sun shine warm upon ye,

Bonnie

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, releases in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she often wanders about outside with her family whenever an excellent opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: SEA BUNNY

To prepare for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will blog about nudibranchs monthly. I hope you will fall in love with these little critters, too. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to February’s sweetheart of a supermodel:

Jorunna Parva (aka The Sea Bunny)

Sourced from Bored Panda.

Awwwww, so DANG cute!

Am I right? This Valentine’s Day there’s nothing I’d love more than to charm you with fun facts about this sweet little cuddle bunny. So cozy up with your special someone and get ready to unravel this adorable nudibranch’s mysteries. The Sea Bunny, or Jorunna Parva, gets its name from its fluffy appearance. Even its dorsal gills (which it uses to breathe) resemble a cottontail.

“Did my heart love till now?”

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

How does the Sea Bunny keep its fur from getting all wet? The Sea Bunny has clusters of tiny rods, called caryophyllidia, that cover its back. These tiny protrusions give the animal’s body surface a texture that resembles fur. Just imagine always looking soft and fuffy, even when you’re drenched in water. Land bunnies can’t manage that.

It’s a big ocean, so how do nudibranchs find each other? Since they cannot see each other, they use their rhinophores to sense each other’s presence. The rhinophores on this sea bunny look like little black bunny ears. Scientists believe that the Sea Bunny’s “fur” rods are also sensory organs.

“Love is in the air, in the whisper of the tree

Love is in the air, in the thunder of the sea…”

– John Paul Young, Love Is In The Air (’78)

Do nudibranchs fall in love? If they do, it is probably more of a quick crush. Let’s dive deeper into nudibranch reproduction.

>RATED PG CONTENT AHEAD<

Nudibranchs are simultaneous hermaphrodites. That means they have fully functioning male and female reproductive organs in one body. This is a very fortunate situation for a slow-moving sea slug because they may not encounter another of their kind very often. To mate, they cuddle together side by side, to fertilize each other’s eggs. Now both nudibranchs can lay egg ribbons!

Mating Jorunna funebris pair. Photo taken by Ria Tan

>END OF RATED PG CONTENT<

“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”

– Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights

To watch more sea bunnies in action, check out this video:

Thank you for taking the time to get to know February’s NUDI GILL PIN UP, the Sea Bunny. If you aren’t in love with these creatures by now, well… What’s wrong with you? Do you have a heart of stone? Here’s one more adorable picture to help seal the deal.

Photo taken by Rickard Zerpe (Creative Commons)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Stay tuned for March’s exciting NUDI GILL PIN-UP.

Be mine,

Bonnie

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, releases in September, 2022. A lover of nature and travel, she often wanders about outside with her family whenever an excellent opportunity to do so presents itself.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Aplysia californica

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in September 2022, I will be blogging about nudibranchs monthly. I’m going to diverge a bit this month to talk about sea hares, which are sea slugs, but are not nudibranchs. My hope is that you will fall in love with these little critters, too. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to January’s fascinating supermodel:

Aplysia Californica

Sea Hare in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Chad King/NOAA

Like nudibranchs, sea hares have rhinophores, are soft-bodied invertebrates, are hermaphroditic and do not wear exterior shells. You may be asking… “It walks like a nudibranch, reproduces like a nudibranch, is cute and squishy like a nudibranch. So what’s the difference? Well, I can name three.

  1. A sea hare has curled rhinophores like bunny ears. That’s where they get their cute name.

Photo credit: Scott F Cummins, Dirk Erpenbeck, Zhihua Zou, Charles Claudianos, Leonid L Moroz, Gregg T Nagle & Bernard M Degnan. 2009. Candidate chemoreceptor subfamilies differentially expressed in the chemosensory organs of the mollusc AplysiaBMC Biology 2009, 7:28. doi:10.1186/1741-7007-7-28. Cropped from figure 6

2. Sea hares are vegetarians who mostly eat seaweed. Nudibranchs are carnivores!

3. A nudibranch can’t do this…

Wait for it…

Are you getting excited?

I bet

the

anticipation

is

killing

you!

Or you might be thinking…

This sea hare is

kind of boring

compared to flashy nudibranchs.

Well, you

are in

for a shock!

Okay, here it is:

Aplysia californica emitting ink cloud. Photos by Genny Anderson. http://marinebio.net/marinescience/03ecology/tptre.htm

WHOA! What is going on here?

– said you just now.

The California sea hare has the ability to express purple dye from its body like an octopus. The octopus squirts (typically black) dye to provide a smoke screen or decoy so it can escape when attacked. In the case of the California sea hare, there is no chance of a quick escape. They are slugs after all. It is believed that their dye has an unpleasant taste and that is what ultimately persuades the attacker to move on to a more savory snack. Isn’t that the coolest?

Purple is the new black, my friends!

I hope you enjoyed meeting the fantastic Aplysia Californica sea hare. Stay tuned for February’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up!

Bonnie

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.

NUDI GILL Coloring Page! FREE! FREE! FREE!

I promised earlier that a little gift was coming for December. Well, here it is! Just in time to keep the kids or yourself preoccupied while you’re waiting for that pie to bake in the oven. So grab your crayons, colored pencils or markers and print out a copy of this cute little scene from NUDI GILL, my debut picture book to be published by Gnome Road Publishing.

NUDI GILL

Download this cute coloring sheet.
Click image to download your PDF printable.

Feliz Navidad, dude!

I hope you enjoy coloring! Stay tuned for January’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up and more fun freebies!

Bonnie

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.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Hexabranchus Sanguineus

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. Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to December’s festive supermodel:

Hexabranchus Sanguineus

Dr. James P. McVey, (Photo Collection of Dr. James P. McVey) NOAA Sea Grant Program, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

(AKA, the Spanish Dancer )

You may be thinking, what exactly am I looking at here? This is in fact a nudibranch and not a Christmas poinsettia. Hexy is one of the biggest nudibranchs out there and can grow up to 24 inches long! Yeah, measure that out. It’s a staggering size in the world of sea slugs!

Is it too soon for some holiday celebration? These beauties come in bright red, pink, orange or sometimes yellow. They can be found in warm waters all the way from the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea.

As cool as it is to watch a Spanish Dancer “dance,” try to remember that they only do this when they feel threatened and are trying to get away. So if you see one lying on the sea floor, please respect its personal space. No one likes to be forced onto the dance floor.

Feliz Navidad, dude!

I hope you enjoyed meeting the flamboyant Hexabranchus Sanguineus nudibranch. Stay tuned for January’s NUDI GILL Pin-Up!

Bonnie

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.

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:

“FLORA or FAUNA”

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

Ready?

.

.

.

Let’s go!

#1
#2
#3
#4
#5

Wait a minute…

Let’s take

a closer look

at that one…

#5A
#6
#7

Hey!

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

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.

Halloweensie Writing Contest

Arrrrrooooh! It’s time for Susanna Leonard Hill’s Halloweensie Writing Contest again.

Here are the rules in case you want to join in. You have until midnight on Halloween to enter.

THE CONTEST: write a 100 word Halloween story appropriate for children (children here defined as 12 and under) (title not included in word count) using the words glow-in-the-darkgoosebumps, and goodies.

My story is inspired by my trip to the Crystal Palace roller skating rink last night. Being close to Halloween, there were lots of people in costume. And the black lights really brought out the creepy. (I dedicate this story to my sister who had a less that spooktacular time last night. Love you, Shmee!)

Party Skating GIF By Lolita.

Good luck to everyone entering the contest!


All Hallow’s Eve at the Roller Rink

Glow-in-the-dark ghosts dangle from dingy drop ceilings.

THRILLER thrums through skull-shaped speakers.

A Vincent Price voice commands the session.

“Creatures of the night, take to your wheels and GLIDE!”

Tiny Fairy Princess runs on her skates.

CLICKETY CLUNK-CLUNK CLACK!

Colliding with a wall-hugging werewolf. 

BUMPITY BUMP-BUMP BANG!

Speed-demon Grim Reaper’s tattered black robe flutters. 

Pumpkin-headed gargoyle grapevines backwards.

Skeletons scissor and spin sporadically inspiring goosebumps.

Zealous Zombies dip and moan to the monstrous music.

Goblins gobble down goodies. 

CRUNCHITY CHOMP-CHOMP CRUNCH!

Bone-brittle cotton candy and paprika-peppered popcorn.

HOPPITY HOOT-HOOT HOWL!

It’s All Hallow’s Eve at the roller rink!


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.

Picture Book Critique Fest 2021

Just passing on the word that #PBCritiqueFest 2021 is open for submissions! Fill out the form to enter to win critiques of your latest work-in-progress from industry professionals like:

Tara Lazar, Jemiscoe Chambers-Black, and Brian Lies!

(And many, many more!)

This event is hosted by the fearless Brian Gehrlein, who’s first picture book, “The Book of Rules,” will be releasing next month. It looks super cute and like a really fun read-aloud.

So, if you’re a picture book creator like me, I highly recommend throwing your name in the hat. Professional critiques have been such a help to me over the years. It’s always great to receive advice from people who are further along their journey than I am.

Good luck and keep on creating!

Bonnie


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.