NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Halgerda batangas

Happy New Year everyone! I know, I know, maybe it’s not so new anymore since it is already January 29th. I can’t believe how fast this month flew by. But, never fear, there’s still time to oooh and awwww over this little cutie nudi from the Tropical Western Pacific Ocean. Specifically found in many locations including  Indonesia, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Mabul, New Britain, the Davao Gulf, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Sulawesi, Great Barrier Reef and Taiwan. Wow! This little one really gets around.

Halgerda batangas

Alexander R. Jenner, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the line work on this beauty! This photo shows Halgerda batangas hanging upside down. See those bumpy orange spots on the nudribranch’s body? Those have a special name that I love.

tubercles

Alexander R. Jenner, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

In anatomy, a tubercle is any round nodule, small eminence, or warty outgrowth found on external or internal organs of a plant or an animal. I love learning new words.

Three cheers for TUBERCLES!

Want to learn another cool word? Those thin orange lines on the nudibranch’s body make up a specific pattern that is seen in other places in nature. Do you know what it is? This giraffe has the same kind of pattern in its fur.

Relative of Brandt Luke Zorn, most likely his father., CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

READY

FOR

THE

ANSWER???

The polygonal shapes resemble a network of markings.

Here’s another example in nature. This python also has this special word in it’s name:

One

MORE

EXAMPLE

AND

I’ll SHARE

THE SPECIAL

WORD

Leaves have these special patterns too. See those tiny veins in the leaf? They supply the leaf with nutrients.

Jon Sullivan (PD Photo.org

This pattern is a

Reticulate Pattern

Reticulated Giraffe

Reticulated Python

Reticulate Venation

By the way, if you like educational wormholes as much as I do, here’s a link to a fascinating webpage I stumbled upon all about leaf structures. Go geek out and get the skinny on a whole new world of words.

BOTANY BASICS: Understanding Leaves

https://biodiversity.utexas.edu/news/entry/leaves



I hope you enjoyed meeting Halgerda batangas and learning a few fun new words. Stay tuned for February’s Special Valentine NUDI GILL Pin-Up.

Geek on!

Bonnie

NOW Available for pre-order!


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: California Sea Hare

Happy Holidays, everyone! I received the best Christmas present ever this year. I got to hang out at the beach with a whole hoard of sea hares. That’s right, I was poking around the rocks off the Dana Point jetty at low tide. I was marveling at the tiny anemones and itty bitty shrimp, when low and behold, my eyes focused in on a real live bonafide sea slug. I squealed with delight like a four-year-old on Christmas morning.

California Sea Hare

Hey, guess what? Bonnie Kelso, author of Nudi Gill, took this picture!

This little guy was only about two inches long and perfectly camouflaged among the reddish brown seaweed clinging to the rocks, so it’s no wonder I didn’t notice them right away.

Once I discovered this one, oh my, I started seeing them EVERYWHERE! I was literally surrounded by them. Some were even rearing, which got me super excited. It was the perfect way to end a year of Nudi Gill Pin-Ups. You may or may not remember that in January, I covered the California Sea Hare, otherwise known as: Aplysia Californica. So to me it was a perfect bookend for a year of exploring different sea slugs.

Can you find the sea hares in this photo?

I’ll give you a hint. There are two.


California Sea Hares are not endangered. In fact, when you see a bunch of them in one area it’s a sign that the ecosystem is healthy. Even so, you should never handle them. They have a slimy coating that protects them from disease and touching them could disrupt those life-saving properties. They can be dangerous, too, because like nudibranchs they absorb toxins from their food and can poison potential predators as a self-defense mechanism.

Here’s a nice little reddish one. It seemed like the smaller ones where reddish, and the larger ones where more black with white speckles or racing stripes.

Did you find the Sea Hares?


I told you they were hard to see at first!

So you may be asking…

what’s the difference between a sea hare and a nudibranch anyway?

Why are they called Sea Hares?

They are called sea hares because they tend to have wide curled rhinophores that slightly resemble bunny ears. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Thank you for revisiting the California Sea Hare with me. I hope you have a beautiful holiday and a happy new year! See you in 2023, with yet another fascinating Nudi Gill Pin-Up.

Best wishes,

Bonnie

NOW Available for pre-order!


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: Costasiella Kuroshimae (AKA Sea Sheep)

November is a great time to practice gratitude. I am so grateful that Nudi Gill is now available for pre-order!

I am also grateful to you for reading my blog. Today I have a special guest. Everyone’s sweetheart…

Costasiella Kuroshimae

By alif_abdulrahman – Costasiella Kuroshimae, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=41894580

Costasiella Kuroshimae is not a nudibranch, but I felt like they had to be included in this series of pin-ups, because come on…. look at that face! The beloved Sea Sheep is in fact a sacoglossan sea slug. These little cuties are solar-powered and prefer a modest diet of algae. Here’s a little pop quiz for you:

In attempt to keep you from seeing the answer, I will bombard the page temporarily with adorable images of Sea Sheep.

By Jun V Lao – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=52923406

Take a look at some Sea Sheep in action:


READY FOR THE ANSWER?

Actually, algae is neither plant nor animal. It falls into its own category called protists. Likewise, the Sea Sheep falls into its own category of cuteness.

BAAAAAAAA!

These vitamin-sized cuties are small. They range from 5mm to 1cm in length. They are kleptoplastic which means that they feed on algae and can store the algae’s chloroplasts in their cells. This is how they are able to photosynthesize energy and nutrients from sunlight.

They were originally discovered in Japan. Their scientific name Kuroshimae refers to Kuroshima, Japan. It is a small southern island not too far from Taiwan. Since then, Sea Sheep have been found in other locations, including Indonesia, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Northern Australia, and Singapore.

HEY, Next time you have trouble sleeping…

try counting Sea Sheep!

I hope you enjoyed oohing and awwwing over November’s sheepy sweetie of a supermodel pin-up, Costasiella Kuroshima. Stay tuned for December’s festive pin-up. You won’t want to miss it!

Gratefully yours,

Bonnie

NOW Available for pre-order!


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 BOOK TRAILER

Guess what today is?

It’s National Nudibranch Day!

What better day than to launch the book trailer for Nudi Gill: Poison Powerhouse of the Sea!

It’s also my birthday month, so I’m super excited to share October with National Nudibranch Day. So why is October 29th National Nudibranch Day? Well, this is also the birthday of Dr. Terry Gosliner, a biologist at the California Academy of Sciences and one of the world’s experts on nudibranchs. So spread the word and hug a sea slug today, because they’re awesome and so are you. (Just kidding about hugging a sea slug. Please don’t touch one, but I’m not kidding about you. You are definitely awesome.)

Now let’s take a look at this book trailer I mentioned earlier. I’ve never made a book trailer before, but discovered it is a lot of fun. In fact, I plan to make a whole lot more of them. So I hope you enjoy it and please give it a thumbs up!

Nudi Gill is now available for pre-order!

Wishing you a very happy National Nudibranch Day! Air hugs!!!

Bonnie

NOW Available for pre-order!


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 March 7, 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: Cyerce Elegans

Happy September! I have exciting news to share… Nudi Gill is now available for pre-order!

Now that that is out of the way… let’s bring our attention back to the pin-ups, shall we? Today I have a sea slug species to share with you who is not a nudibranch. They may look like a jellyfish, an egg case, or spawn of the blob, but they are actually a living creature! Look closely for those telltale rhinophores to let you know who you are really dealing with.

Cyerce Elegans!

They are little, lacy, and 100% Loveable!

Nhobgood Nick Hobgood, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as the Butterfly Cyerce, the Cyerce Elegans is a species of sacoglossan sea slug meaning it is solar-powered and feeds primarily on algae unlike those carnivorous nudibranchs. Their leaf-like creata can be cast away if they feel threatened, providing for a distraction while they make their escape. They are relatives of the Cyerce Nigricans sea slug which resembles a tiny aquatic stegosaurus (which, by the way, is the best of all the dinosaurs).

Cyerce Nigricans. Katharina Händeler, Yvonne P. Grzymbowski, Patrick J. Krug & Heike Wägele, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here’s some beautiful footage of a Cyerce elegans on the move.

Those are some pretty sassy Salsa moves, Cyerces elegans!

I hope you enjoyed learning about September’s sassy supermodel pin-up, Cyerce elegans. Stay tuned for October’s loveable pin-up. You won’t want to miss this one!

May you display some sea slug elegans of your own today.

Bonnie

NOW Available for pre-order!


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: Thecacera pacifica

Summer is winding down and kids are heading back to school, but that won’t stop me from sharing August’s awesome Nudi Gill Pin-up with you! With its bright yellow coloring and black-tipped rhinophores this nudibranch looks very much like a certain beloved Pokémon character. That’s right, it’s…

Thecacera pacifica!

AKA the Pikachu Nudibranch!

This nudibranch has some funky earlobed rhinophores! Their gills are also located a bit closer to the head than other species with two large papillae on either side. But just like other nudibranchs, they can deliver a nasty sting when threatened. Kind of like Pikachu and his electric shocks.

NUDI – NUDI – CHUUUUUU!

Here’s a great video that shows a bit more about the science behind a nudibranch’s stinging abilities. They literally steal stingers (or underdeveloped nemotocycts) from their food and hoard them in their cerata until matured and ready to fire off.

For a deeper dive (pun intended) on additional nudibranchs that resemble Pokémon characters, check out this fun video:

I know they’re adorable, but watch out!

IRL, They’re not as cute as they look!

A bolt of brilliance! I hope you enjoyed learning about August’s awesome NUDI GILL PIN-UP, Thecacera pacifica, aka the Pikachu nudibranch. Stay tuned for September’s sassy supermodel.

As always, I choose you!

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: Spanish Shawl

With July coming to a close, I thought I’d share some thoughts about this colorful firework of the sea, the Flabellinopsis iodinea nudibranch! I know that’s quite a mouthful of vowels. I guess that’s why a lot of people call this little creature the Spanish Shawl instead.

Flabellinopsis iodinea

Jerry Kirkhart from Los Osos, Calif.

Oooooooh! Ahhhhhhh!

The Spanish Shawl is a species of aeolid nudibranch. I know, I know, more vowels. The aeolid suborder of nudibranch is the second largest next to the dorid nudibranchs. They typically have long tapered bodies, long cephala tentacles on their heads that are distinctly separate from their rhinophores, and clusters of creata respiratory organs that run along their back. Those are the bright orange bits on the photo above.

All these fancy body parts are not only beautiful, but functional as well. Let’s start with those cerata! They do double duty as respiratory system and digestive system. Can you imagine your lungs and stomach in one place? The cerata extract oxygen from the sea water, but they also store stinging cells absorbed through the sea sponges they eat. If a predator tries to eat the nudibranch, the cerata will release the harvested poison within.

Taken in Scripps Canyon, La Jolla, California by Magnus Kjærgaard Category:Opisthobranchia

The nudibranch’s rhinophores sense smell and vibrations in the water. These sensory organs are connected directly to the nudibranch’s brain. The long cephala tentacles are used in a tactile way, feeling around the nudibranch’s environment for food. They wave them ahead as they move forward. This is especially helpful, because a nudibranch has very poor eyesight.

Check out this neat video of Flabellinopsis iodinea in action. They even do a bit of free swimming at the end!

What a Face!


I hope you enjoyed learning about July’s explosively colorful NUDI GILL PIN-UP, Flabellinopsis iodinea, aka the Spanish Shawl. Stay tuned for August’s amazing supermodel.

I vowel to make it worth your time.

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: Melibe leonina

Is everyone enjoying their summer? The summer months always make me think of picnics and pool parties and what would either of those be without a fresh watermelon to share? And hey, did you know that there’s a nudibranch that smells like watermelons? Okay, I know that’s a weird lead into this month’s NUDI GILL PIN-UP, but you’ve got to check these guys out!

Melibe leonina

Chad King / NOAA MBNMS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Jellyfish or Aquatic venus fly trap?

Honestly, if I ever came across these in the wild, that’s what I would think at first. But, low and behold, they are indeed nudibranchs, with specialized hoodies designed specifically for catching prey. Check out the video below to see them in action.

Also known as the Lion’s Mane Nudibranch, the Melibe leonina does not have tiny radula teeth like some other nudibranchs do, so they rely on their large hooded lip, lined with tiny tentacles, to gather food into their mouth. They cast it out like a little built in fishing net.

The growths on its back are actually cerata. Cerata are skin extensions that help the animal breath. What is so interesting about the Melibe leonina, is that it can break away a cerata if it feels threatened, much like how a lizard will shed its tail. This behavior of self-amputation it known as autotomy.

AND THE WATERMELON THING?

Melibe leonina makes chemicals in its body called terpenoids. The terpenoids are secreted through glands on the nudibranch’s back in the form of a delicate slime. This slime helps to repel potential predators, but also happens to smell like a watermelon jolly rancher.

Melibe leonina nudibranch feeding by opening the oral hood to trap prey. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, San Pedro, California. Tentaculata, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

FUN FACT: A cluster of Melibe leoninas is called a bouquet.

Awww, What a lovely bouquet! Smells like watermelon.

The next time you sink your teeth into a juicy slice of watermelon, I hope you will think fondly of June’s sweet NUDI GILL PIN-UP, Melibe leonina. Stay tuned for July’s spectacular firecracker of a supermodel.

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: Glaucus Atlanticus

Hey there! I’m getting May’s NUDI GILL PIN-UP in just under the wire! It’s been a busy time for me. I’ve been putting the finishing touches on NUDI GILL as well as creating art for IN A CAVE, and a few other new picture books in the works! But, I couldn’t let May slip by without mentioning this most magnificent superstar pin-up:

Glaucus Atlanticus

Glaucus_atlanticus_1.jpgTaro Taylor from Sydney, Australia

OI! What A Beauty, RIGHT?

These pelagic nudibranchs were in the spotlight this past winter because thousands of them started washing up along the Queensland coast of Australia. (Remember Australia’s summer runs from December to February, so by winter, I really mean Australian summer). These poisonous sea slugs, also known as Blue Dragons, recently became one more fascinating creature on the long list of Australian fauna that can kill you. Usually these nudibranchs are found in open water nibbling on Blue Bottles, but for some reason they surfed their way to the shores, much to the delight and then horror of summer beachgoers. Scientists are not sure why this happened, but it could be due to a number of factors such as unusually strong tides, shifts in currents, and warming ocean temperatures.

And it’s not over yet! If you’re like me and heading to the US beaches this summer, keep an eye out for blue fleets of these little guys. Since last month there are reports of them washing up along the gulf coast of Texas.

Recently in texas…

Blue Dragons love to feed on the Portuguese Man-O-War (or as they call them in Australia, Blue Bottles). This is how they acquire their deadly neurotoxin venom and lovely blue hues.


Image courtesy of Islands in the Sea 2002, NOAA/OER.

BLUE BOTTLES

Though they are often mistaken for jellyfish, these creatures are siphonophores. This means they are colonial organisms, made up of many smaller units called zooids. The colony works together to operate as a single organism. These dangerous siphonophores have long tentacles that can sting even when separated from the main body. When I was a kid, some floating tentacles wrapped around my legs while I was swimming off the shore of Hollywood Beach, Florida. It was a terribly painful experience that left red welts on my legs for days.

I’m going to geek out a bit with this follow up image which I find to be UBER-fascinating showing what parts of this creature do what.

Catriona Munro, Zer Vue, Richard R. Behringer & Casey W. Dunn, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Now back to the star of this show…

GLAUCUS ATLANTICUS!!!!!

Probably the smallest dragon in history (or mythology), this nudibranch species rarely exceeds 3cm in length. It stores a tiny air bubble in its tummy to stay afloat. When it wants to dive, it simply burps. Now, before you die from that tidbit of cuteness, remember that it’s not called a dragon for nothing. The Glaucus Atlanticus does not produce venom on its own. It stores the venom it ingests from the Blue Bottle’s tentacles. But when Glaucus Atlanticus does decide to sting, watchout! It can inject more poison than the Blue Bottle itself!

Even so, Glaucus Atlanticus is small and vulnerable to predators as it travels in the wide open water column. It uses countershading to camouflage itself like many other sea creatures do. Its bright blue top hides it from predators above, looking down into the deep blue of the ocean, while its light grey underside mimics the sunlit water surface, hiding it from predators below.

Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library. https://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/8438459#page/94/mode/1up

Thank you for taking the time to get to know May’s magnificent NUDI GILL PIN-UP, Glaucus Atlanticus. Stay tuned for June’s gorgeous supermodel.

Hooroo!

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.