A weird and wonderful nudibranch

August 2, 2014, 1 p.m.

A spiky surprise

If you've ever gone tide-pooling or snorkeled at a coral reef, there's a chance you've encountered a nudibranch. These little animals put our garden slugs to shame. They're so incredibly unusual. There are two basic groups that nudibrachs fall into, Dorids and Aeolids. The Aeolids have spike-like cerata covering their backs, such as this nudibranch, a Janolus fuscus found in a tide pool near Cayucos, California. These cerata are used for respiration, and in some species, can also be used as stingers. Though most nudibranchs are found in shallow waters, one species was discovered at a depth of 8,200 feet below the surface! Just another way nudibranchs show off how diverse and special they really are.

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