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