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: 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.