When you think of sea slugs, you might envision dark, slimy relatives of the slugs you see in your garden. But one group of sea slugs, the nudibranchs (pronounced “nood-i-branks”), are gaudy, fascinating creatures. They come in a wide array of bright colors and psychedelic patterns. Many have gills that stick up from their backs like clumps of water balloons, shag carpets, or Mohawk hair-dos.
Nudibranchs live in virtually all the world’s oceans, from the tide pools down into the deep sea. Like many other deep-sea animals, the nudibranchs of the deep are poorly studied. Though scientists have named about 3,000 shallow-water nudibranchs, until recently only three deep-water species were known in the entire Northeast Pacific.
However marine biologists recently described five new species of nudibranchs that live on the deep seafloor offshore of California and Baja California. Four of these animals were discovered using MBARI’s remotely operated vehicles (underwater robots), and two of them were named after MBARI scientists.
Photo: Bernard DUPONT/Wikimedia Commons
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