Cryptic! A Nudiphile Episode

The craziest things in the ocean turn out to be nudibranchs!  Some of these nudis are so cryptic that they have only recently been discovered.  Weirder still, some of these nudibranchs are solar-powered.  They store algae in their outer tissues and live off of the sugar produced by the algae’s photosynthesis.  These nudis are from the Phylodesmium family.


In the images above and below, you can see the digestive glands (the brown clusters) through the translucent white body of these solar-powered nudibranchs.



This nudibranch hides in the soft corals that it resembles.  Well, more than resembles.  It looks exactly like a soft coral.  You have to look closely to see it’s head and rhinophores.


And perhaps the most cryptic of all, Allen’s Ceratosoma, or the Alleni.  This nudibranch is difficult to find and to some is known as the holy grail of nudibranchs. This particular specimen was about the size of my hand, but I have also seen them as small as my thumb.


As a photographer, these are the finds that I hope for and the reason I love diving in the Philippines.  The nudibranchs are plentiful and lovely.


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