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.

NUDI GILL PIN-UP: Nembrotha Aurea

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 October’s supermodel:

Nembrotha Aurea

By Bernard Picton – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22742547

Check out the spectacular colors on this elegant nudibranch! Getting any ideas for Halloween costumes here?

This little nudibranch feeds on colonial ascidians, otherwise known as sea squirts. Mmmmm, makes my mouth water!

All Nudibranchs are classified into sub-species. For example, this one falls into the Nudibranchia suborder of Dorid Nudibranchs. From there it breaks down further into the Phanerobranch category of Dorids. These nudibranchs are generally long and slender with well defined heads. They also have non-retractable gills on their backs. In fact, the word phanerobranch means “evident gill.” Just a little science stuff to geek out about.

Phanerobranch dorid nudibranchs sometimes exhibit a behavior known as rearing. Sometimes they do it because they are repulsed by something toxic or dangerous. Other times they lift their upper bodies up like this just to have a better “look” around. You never know, there might be a mate or something yummy to eat nearby. They sense such things through their rhinophores, not their eye spots.

Where’s the buffet?

These nudibranchs can be found in the Tropical Indo-West Pacific. Where’s that? It’s the Indian Ocean and beyond. A watery paradise stretching from the east coast of Africa all across the Asian coastline and touching the shores of Australia. This nudibranch really gets around!

Image source: Global Village Space

I hope you enjoyed meeting the beautiful Nembrotha Aurea nudibranch. Stay tuned for November’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: Sea Clown

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 September’s supermodel:

Triopha Catalinae

Photograph by Minette Layne from Seattle, Washington, USA – Salome

Check out that mustache! Unlike other dorid nudibranchs, the sea clown’s dorsal gills are not fully retractable. Triopha Catalinae is comfortable letting it all hang out!

Spotted Triopha, or Triopha maculata, photographed in Morro Bay, California by Robin Agarwal. Sourced from Flickr and shared via Creative Commons License.

The Sea clown also comes in opposite coloration. Which is your favorite? I can’t decide, but I’m loving these fall colors. Makes me crave a pumpkin latte.

Photograph by divindk
Santa Barbara, USA
. Sourced from Flickr and shared via Creative Commons License.

No clowning around, these nudibranchs are small. How many sea clowns could pile into a clown car? Probably all of them!

Who are you calling a clown?

The sea clown’s scientific name is derived from Santa Catalina Island, California, but you can find these nudibranchs in the Western Pacific from Mexico all the way to Alaska. They have also been found in costal areas of Japan and South Korea.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Triopha Catalinae nudibranch. Stay tuned for October’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: Pteraeolidia Ianthina

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 August’s supermodel:

Pteraeolidia Ianthina

A Serpent Pteraeolidia (Pteraeolidia ianthina). Halifax Point, Port Stephens, NSW. Photograph by Richard Ling.

A long serpentine body covered in blue, purple, green, or brown cerata (respiratory organs), earned this nudibranch the nickname of blue dragon. Its long winding body is reminiscent of a Chinese Dragon. So cool. Check out this mug. What a face!

Photograph by Sarah Han-de-Beaux. You have GOT to check out her website and amazing photographs, really!

What I find most astonishing about Pteraeolidia Ianthina is that is it solar-powered. Tesla has nothing on this baby! This nudibranch has developed a method of capturing and farming microscopic plants (known as zooxanthellae) right inside its own body. It’s a win-win relationship because the nudibranch provides protection for the plants and the plants help feed the nudibranch with the sugars they convert from the sun’s energy. (Read more about this on The Sea Slug Forum.)

The more zooxanthellae, the greener the nudibranch appears.

Talk about going green!

You can find these fiercely fabulous nudibranchs throughout the Indo-Pacific.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Pteraeolidia Ianthina Nudibranch. Stay tuned for September’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: Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

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 July’s supermodel:

Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

Photograph by Jerry Kirkhart, Los Osos, CA

Bubble-gum pink papillae cover this beauty from head to toe. And now you are probably scratching your head and wondering, where’s the head and where’s the toe? Look closely for the two rhinophores poking out on the right end.

BINGO! That’s the head. A nudibranch’s toe (or foot) typically spans the length of its belly, but Rose’s mantle, head, and foot are kind of all merged together in one flattish base. Below is a cool shot of the edge of Rose’s foot/body/mantle. And in case you were wondering again which end you are looking at, well… those feathery bits are anal gills. So basically, she’s showing off her bodacious bum here.

Photograph by Robin Agarwal

Another unique thing about Rose is her extra-large middle tooth. Give us a smile, Rose!

Hubba Bubba!

You can find more of these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools all along the Pacific Coastline from Baja California to Oregon.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch. Stay tuned for August’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: Monterey Sea Lemon

In preparation for NUDI GILL, my debut picture book release in March 2023, 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 June’s supermodel:

The Monterey Sea Lemon

This little cutie may look like a sweet meyer, but you wouldn’t want to squeeze one over your shrimp cocktail. Nudibranchs have the ability to store toxins in their flesh from the food they eat (mostly sea sponges). The Sea Lemon’s bright yellow color is a warning to predators that they’d better think twice before messing with them.

Though they start out very small, this species can grow to be a whopping 15 cm long! Maybe they should be called Sea Bananas.

You can find these cool creatures lurking in tidal pools and up to depths of 50 meters all along the Pacific Coastline from San Diego, California to Kachemak Bay, Alaska.

I hope you enjoyed meeting the Monterey Sea Lemon. Stay tuned for July’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.