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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cape Mendocino and Tritonia

Views of Cape Mendocino — the first is a more distant view looking north from near Punta Gorda with the Mattole River in the foreground.  The second is from the beach just south of the Cape.

While tidepooling in a boulder field near Cape Mendocino, Eric discovered one of our favorite nudibranchs, Tritonia festiva.  This nudibranch is a specialist predator on soft corals.  In the photographs below, the small pink mounds are the soft coral Discophyton rudyi.  All photos were taken on 10 May 2012.

Photos show two different individuals, one darker orange and one lighter.

Note the white diamond-shaped markings on the dorsal surface.  Also visible are the prominent tentacles on the oral veil (used for detecting the coral polyps).

Below, look for the two complex rhinophores (chemosensory tentacles) on the head and the finely-branched gill tufts along the margins.  The gill tufts resemble extended coral polyps (Goddard, 2000).

P.S.  Tritonia festiva occurs from Alaska to Baja and has been found (rarely) on Bodega Head.

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