Information on the life and love of nudibranchs and why we can’t get enough of them are presented underneath the photo selection with the name of species shown.
Picture gallery of nudibranchs
with name, location, date and camera settings for each photo as soon as you click on one. As the nudi collection is steadily growing, I decided to divide the gallery starting my personal favourites and adding more species to „Second best of nudibranchs“ at the end of the page as well as additional camera info.
The very best of nudibranchs
Why do we – as almost all divers – go crazy for slugs?
First of all, instead of sea slugs, we lovingly call them nudis, short for nudibranchs, which makes them much cuter and brings out their true nature: beautiful, colourful, and exotic on the one hand, mysterious, bizarre and toxic on the other. Nudibranch families form a sub-group within the large taxonomic class Gastropoda, commonly known as snails and slugs. Granted, while all nudibranchs are sea slugs, not all sea slugs are nudibranchs. We shall try our best to be precise. By the way, the name nudibranch originates from the Latin nudus, meaning „naked“, and the Ancient Greek βράγχια (bránkhia) for „gills“.
Second of all, they are a very rewarding find: It is this mix of being super pretty as well as the odd one out. The sheer number of species is astounding. Some are very hard to tell apart, others strikingly different from anything you have ever seen before. They also vary in sizes from tiny speaks of some millimetres to massive beasts. Hexabranchus sanguineus (Spanish Dancer) can grow up to more than 50 cm. Some stand out, others are highly camouflaged.
Thirdly, their senses, behavioural aspects and chemical processes and substances which makes them a promising subject of science. The increase in research has let to the description of new nudibranch species and the reclassification of many others in recent years. The process is still ongoing and leads to some confusion or uncertainties at the moment that we just have to live with for now (read for example on the genus Tenellia / Trinchesia).
That being said: If you spot any mistakes or have any doubts about the names being indicated here, please let us know, we really want to share the correct information and are happy to learn and adapt and go with the flow.
Find the creature
The one thing is finding the species in the wild, another is identifying it afterwards. That’s where pictures are tremendously helpful. Actually, for all ID purposes photos (or videos) are such a useful tool to look up the decisive details to tell certain species apart. I don’t know how often I have put quite some energy into taking a mental picture, only to find myself scratching my head over two different species that pretty much look identical apart from one distinguishing feature which unfortunately didn’t make it into my mental picture. Besides, nudibranchs can be such beautiful macro subjects to work with and get to know your camera setting. Though sometimes, they just crawl over not very photogenic grounds or simply turn their backs on you (as you can see in the gallery quite clearly).
Back on land, we enjoy looking up what we have seen underwater. It starts with dive buddies and colleagues and continues to books and eventually ending in ID groups or website if there is enough internet to do so. Why we care is described in the last section of this page. Even though I plan to add more and more nudis into the gallery above, this is not meant to become a page based or focussed on nudi ID primarily. We name nudibranchs on each photo, add information in little stories and connect other resources. There are very lively communities and growing databases out there which I frequently visit to find out more about my little darlings, like WoRMs (World Register of Marine Species), The Sea Slug Forum, specifically, but not limited to Australia, Nudibranchs where you can also find a very comprehensive list with ID books and other useful resources and, of course, Wikipedia. For a more interactive approach, there are wonderful facebook groups helping with identification, like Nudibranch Central or Nudi Base.
Why care about the name, a photo or information?
For us, it is a sort of appreciation – we feel grateful to be able to experience nature this way – therefore we want to learn more and more about the underwater world, we love to share our knowledge and passion in the hope to (re)connect us and others to nature more deeply and lovingly. We fully understand not everybody wants to learn the names of the underwater creatures. People go diving for loads of different reasons. But maybe getting to know the world you are entering, might also help with that goal. Let’s see:
- We believe you can remember a creature (in fact a whole dive) much better if you know what you saw and what the name of that particular creature is. It works even better to see the name written and/or write it down yourself.
- The more you know about the habitat of a creature the more likely you will actually find it on a dive. And isn’t finding a beautiful or special creature yourself the most rewarding part of diving? OK, maybe finding a cool critter and then share it with others is even better! No wait, finding the critter, show it to others after taking a wonderful shot and then sharing the result with even more people, might be the most rewarding …
- And, especially interesting for photographers and videographers, even if you know what is out there and where to look for it (some divers leave it all quite happily to their guides) you will actually get better shots knowing the behaviour of your subject as you might be able to anticipate certain movements and bring yourself into the perfect position to frame your picture.
We want to share finds, knowledge and passion in order to connect and inspire on the wonderful topic of nudibranchs – and beyond – as well as diving and photography/videography.
Second best of nudibranchs
All pictures are taken with my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the Olympus M.60mm F2.8 Macro lens in a Nauticam housing and two strobes (Sea&Sea YS-01 and INON Z-330 until April 2019, from May 2019 2 x INON Z-330 ). I developed the photos in Adobe Lightroom 6.