We present the life and love of nudibranchs to explain why we can’t get enough of them. They are simply everybody’s darling. Each photo tells you the name, while the rest of the information is valid for all nudibranchs.
Picture gallery of nudibranchs
with basic information like name, location, date and camera settings for each photo as soon as you click on it. As the nudi collection is steadily growing, I decided to divide the gallery starting with my personal favourites. The „Very best“ and „Second best of nudibranchs“ bring colour and weirdness up to the surface.
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. This loving nickname makes them much cuter and brings out their true nature. Nudis are beautiful, colourful, and exotic on the one hand, and 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“ (Let’s talk scientifically! Pictures and marine ID).
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 size 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, chemical processes and substances make them a promising subject of science. The increase in research has led 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 (read for example on the genus Tenellia / Trinchesia).
That being said, we ask you to help us get better. If you spot any mistakes in the information or the name of the nudibranchs on a photo, please let us know. We really want to share the correct information and are happy to learn, adapt and go with the flow.
Find the creature underwater
One thing is finding the species in the wild. Another is identifying it afterwards. That’s where pictures come in handy. For any ID photos (or videos) are such a useful tool as they allow us to look up the decisive details to tell certain species apart afterwards.
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. Of course, that detail didn’t make it into my mental picture. Besides, nudibranchs can be such beautiful macro subjects to work with. They invite us to play with our camera settings. However, they are not always cooperating. Sometimes, they just crawl over pretty unphotogenic grounds or simply turn their backs on you (as you can see in the gallery quite clearly).
Find the name and information for each photo of nudibranchs
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 ends in ID groups or websites. At least, if the internet is strong enough or available at all. Continue reading to find out why we care so much about these details. Even though I plan to add more and more nudis to the galleries, this is not meant to become a page that is based or focussed purely on nudi ID. 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. Thanks to those, I keep learning about my little darlings. There are WoRMs (World Register of Marine Species), The Sea Slug Forum, specifically, but not limited to Australia. Nudibranchs has a very comprehensive list of ID books and other useful resources. Of course, you can consult Wikipedia, too. For a more interactive approach, there are wonderful Facebook groups helping with identification, like Nudibranch Central or Nudi Base.
Why care about the correct name, 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. After all, we love to share our knowledge and passion in the hope of (re)connecting us and others to nature more deeply and lovingly. We fully understand not everybody wants to learn the names of underwater creatures. People go diving for loads of different reasons. Maybe getting to know the world you are entering, might also help with whatever is your goal though. Let’s see:
- We believe you can remember a creature (in fact a whole dive) much better if you know how it looks. We memorise its appearance more easily if we know the name. This technique works even better when seeing the name written out and/or writing it down ourselves.
- 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 critter all by yourself the most rewarding part of diving? OK, maybe finding a cool critter and then sharing it with others is even better! No wait, finding a critter, and showing it to others after taking a wonderful shot, might be the most rewarding. In this way, we can also share the result with even more people, … After all, it was a nudi that opened the door to the final of German Photographer of the Year 2019 for me. According to Yoeri, it looks as if it’s riding a rainbow.
- 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. Thanks to that knowledge you might be able to anticipate the direction your nudi is moving, allowing you to position yourself perfectly to frame your very best nudibranch.
Second best of nudibranchs
All pictures were 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.