The Phyllodesmium Nudibranchs does what?
Solar Powered Nudis prefer to feed on Soft Corals. This Soft Coral food-source is in part made up of photosynthesizing algae. After eating the Soft Coral, the Solar Powered Nudibranch stores the coral’s photosynthesizing algae in its skin flaps (cerata). The Nudibranch nurtures the ingested algae, allowing it to continue to photosynthesize from within the Nudibranch. In this way, the Nudibranch becomes fed, or “powered”, by sunlight in the same way that Corals are fed by sunlight.
Other species of Nudibranch put the useful traits provided by their food-source to use as well. For example, many Aeolid species of Nudibranch feed primarily on anemones, jellyfish and stinging corals. Possibly using their “slug-slime” to avoid being stung while they feed, Aeolid Nudis ingest, process and acquire the stinging nematocysts (tiny, venomous cells) found within their latest meal. The nudibranch stores the immature stinging cells within its cerata, thereafter maintaining the same stinging protection from predation as that of anemones, jellyfish and stinging corals.
What else have we been seeing?
Alongside the beautiful abovementioned Nudibranches, this week in Lembeh brought us a plethora of other fascinating critters. A variety of Melibe Nudibranch, with a weird and wonderful extendable feeding hood, have been spotted at a few of our black sand sites.
Pontohi Seahorses are out in full effect this week as well. One lucky dive group saw 5 Pontohis living together on a single algae clump; two of the Seahorses came together multiple times and held on to one another with their tails.
And of course the Wonderpus and Mimic Octopus continue to fascinate first-time divers to Lembeh, while another very lucky dive group witnessed a Coconut Octopus shooing hundreds of her newly hatched babies from a glass bottle. It was yet another week in Lembeh where the critters surprised and captivated us all!