Normally, a ‘great find’ is the discovery of a critter we have been looking for in a long time. Obviously, the moment we spot such a species is close to euphoric.
Once in a while though, we just fall on an unknown species and we can only guess it might be something spectacular.
It doesn’t belong in the ‘always there’, ‘once in a while’ or ‘when you are lucky’ category… It belongs to the ‘I had no idea that existed’, ‘never in my wildest dreams’ or ‘all my books are ignorant’ category!
The animal pictured above belongs to the ‘what the hell…’ type.
It figures that just on this particular dive I did not have my camera with me…
Luckily Olivier, my partner in crime, had his camera with him so started to film the little stranger. When he moved the camera around to catch it from another angle something unusual happened: the little slug shed its ‘bubbles’.
A very naked nudi was all that was left!
The next day we miraculously found it again. Some of the bubbles (papillae to be more correct) were growing back from the white tubercles covering its body.
Our search in the books did not deliver us any name but we found some noteworthy information in ‘NUDIBRANCH Behavior’ by Dave Behrens. This book has a very interesting chapter about autotomy as a defense strategy used by some Opisthobranchs. He writes: ‘Autotomy is a reflex separation of body parts or appendages intended to confuse and/or distract attacking predators.’ A more known example of autotomy is the lizard leaving its tail behind in order to escape the fangs or claws of a predator.
Dave Behrens also was the one able to give us the name of this mystery slug:
If you want to know more about this fascinating creature please follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=526803084055162&set=a.238033526265454.52987.154343894634418&type=1&theater
We have been looking for this colourful midget for over two years!
That is not something to be surprised of if you know that the maximum size of the carapace of this little one is 4 mm! Its name: Mosaic boxer crab (Lybia tesselata). The ‘boxer’ part of this appellation refers to the little anemones that are attached to its claws. Some call it Pom-pom crab as well, suggesting it has more of a cheerleader than of a boxer… Either way, they use the anemones to defend themselves against potential predators by waving these cnidarians with their stinging cells into the attackers face. The anemones also help collecting food.
It was –as it often is- a complete surprise to see this tiny beauty daring me into a fight, waving its anemone-gloved claws to me from the top of a little rock. I had to look twice to identify the daredevil. Once I knew for sure I squeaked with delight 🙂 It’s another ‘first-timer’, a ‘never-seen-before’ that makes diving here so wonderful!
This is a picture of a Saron shrimp (Saron sp., family: Marble shrimps ; Hippolytidae). It is not my best photo ever; nevertheless I am pleased with it! I spend a whole dive on attempting to capture this beauty and this was my last attempt! It fills the frame, the colours are there and it is sharp. Considering the less than ideal placement of my topic I am pleased with the result!
We found this species during the day, hiding in a crevice, barely visible. Still, I wanted to give it a go since it was the most interesting animal I had seen thus far during this dive. To do so I had to break off one of my external strobes and lay it on the sand. Luckily a sandy bottom surrounded the rocks my subject was hiding in between. But… on this sandy bottom was one little bushy hydroid colony, exactly where I needed to be to be able to see my screen, let alone the shrimp.
I ended up with a rash on my hand from the focusing… and a rash on my ear from the peeking at my screen – and I can tell you: after a while it starts to burn – but also with a full frame picture of this Saron.