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Solar-Powered Nudibranch

Phyllodesmium briareum

Description:

This aeolid nudibranch has a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthellae, one-celled plants that photosynthesize (hence the 'solar-powerd' monicker). It feeds on -- and camouflages with -- the soft coral, Briareum violacea, but also benefits from the zooxanthellate photosynthesis. (On the nudibranch's skin you can see brown flecks, which are the zooxanthellae.) Looking at the nudibranch, it's very difficult to make out which part is the head and which part is the tail. The head can be located by looking for its rhinophores, which appear straighter and shorter than the other "tentacles". Below those is another pair of straight tentacles, which are actually its oral tentacles. The rest, which are usually curved in apearance, are the animal's cerata. All of these yellow-tipped tentacles, as well as its body, are brown in color.

Habitat:

In shallow waters of the Indo-Pacific region (including Australia). This nudibranch needs to keep its resident zooxanthellae alive, hence its existence at depths where the sun's rays can still penetrate.

Notes:

Spotted this interesting nudibranch at a depth of only 5.8m, off the northeastern coast of Samal Island, Philippines. It measured approximately 2cm long. The first photo is a frontal view of the nudibranch: you'll see two straight tentacles making a "V", those are its rhinophores. The second picture shows it from the right side. The third is a view from the top, showing the animal in a vertical position. The last photo is also a top view but lengthwise or horizontal. Here you can clearly make out the body of the nudibranch, tipped by its rhinophores on the right.

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14 Comments

This is truly amazing find Blogie, congratulations and thanks for sharing these information.

Blogie
Blogie 8 years ago

Thanks Maria!

Maria dB
Maria dB 8 years ago

What a fantastic spotting!

Blogie
Blogie 8 years ago

Video is now up! Sorry, though, because the quality isn't very good.

Blogie
Blogie 8 years ago

Yeah I like seeing those flower-looking polyps too! :)

Thanks, SatyenMehta and everyone who've favorited this spotting!

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 8 years ago

.....I also like the other small polyps in pic #4

Blogie
Blogie 8 years ago

Thanks Leuba! Yes, very complex indeed, and very difficult to photograph! I spent more than 10mins with this critter, and only towards the end was I able to figure out where its head was! :D

Leuba Ridgway
Leuba Ridgway 8 years ago

Blogie, fantastic spotting again ! -the information is great too. I would have thought there were two nudibranchs ( pic #2) one on top of the other- it's obviously a very complex-looking creature. Thanks again ! like medusa

Wild Things
Wild Things 8 years ago

Lovely spotting.

Blogie
Blogie 8 years ago

Too small... maybe just Medusa's eyebrow! :D

Thanks Atul!

Atul
Atul 8 years ago

was just about to say that Argy :-)
amazing spot !

Blogie
Blogie 8 years ago

Am I entertaining you yet, ArgyBee? :D
Video to be posted later...

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 8 years ago

It's like Madusa's head.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 8 years ago

Not again Blogie. That's amazing.

Blogie
Spotted by
Blogie

Davao Del Norte, Philippines

Spotted on May 13, 2012
Submitted on May 14, 2012

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