Nudibranchs – Small is Beautiful

26 Jul 2017

Divers at Prodivers Kuredu are all too familiar with the post-dive chatter about the big stuff, such as sharks and manta rays, and also with the in depth description of where to find a frog fish or leaf fish on certain dive sites…but get on a boat with a group of macro fans and the topic of conversation can very often turn to nudibranchs.

The idea of non-divers getting excited about a slug they spot during a walk through a field on a damp day is a little strange but transport the conversation to a dive boat where the guests have seen a nudibranch and suddenly the conversation is quite normal!

To a novice diver it might be hard to see what all the fuss is about – a tiny, sometimes colourful, slug-like creature slowly moving across the reef – an appreciation for the super small stuff like nudibranches often comes with experience. To spot these beautiful creatures it is necessary to have a keen eye and to dive slowly, quite close to the reef.

So, what are these weird and wonderful creatures?

  • Creatures with gills are located on the outside of their body
  • Name stems from a mix of Latin & Greek = Nudus (Latin)= Naked, Brankia (Greek)= Gills
  • Group of soft- bodies, marine gastropod molluscs that shed their shells after their larval stage
  • Invertebrates which have a carnivorous diet feeding on algae, sponges, anemones, corals and even other nudibranchs
  • Their life span in the wild can be from 1 month up to 1 year
  • Strikingly beautiful with extraordinary colours and strange shapes; they get their colouring from the food they eat which helps them to camouflage into their environment
  • Over 2000 identified species of Nudibranchs are known
  • Found all over the world, at almost all depths
  • Greatest diversity of nudibranchs is seen in warm, shallow reefs
  • Every underwater micro photographer’s dreams!

Ludwig, Assistant Baseleader at Prodivers Kuredu, has captured images of very beautiful nudibranches during his dives on the reefs in the Lhaviyani and Noon Atolls.