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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rings and a fighter

We saw quite a few species of nudibranchs (sea slugs) at Pacific Grove on 26 April 2013, but unfortunately I only had time to photograph a couple.

Here are two examples: one species that also occurs on Bodega Head, and another species that doesn't but should be watched for as its current northern limit is Duxbury Reef in Bolinas.

This is a Ring-spotted Dorid (Diaulula sandiegensis).  The dark, ring-shaped spots on the pale background are distinctive.  The number of spots varies, with northern individuals tending to have more spots.  (Some of the individuals I've encountered on Bodega Head have a yellowish hue.)  Ring-spotted Dorids eat sponges.  Here's one more view in a slightly different position:

The next species is one that hasn't been observed on Bodega Head yet.

This is a Fighting Phidiana (Phidiana hiltoni, formerly Phidiana pugnax).  Note the very broad oral tentacles with the narrow orange stripe, the rhinophores with orange at the base, and the dense and colorful cerata along the back (black with orange, pink, and white markings).  Fighting Phidianas eat hydroids, but they also attack and consume other nudibranchs, hence their name.  Here's a close-up:

Any sightings of Phidiana hiltoni north of Bolinas would represent a range extension and would be of great interest, so if you see this species, take pictures and let us know!

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