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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tiny bubbles

It might be hard to tell what these are, but do you want to try?

I think they look like tiny bubbles at first, but I'll give you a hint and reveal that those clear, shiny, reflective parts are actually transparent shells.

The grayish, opaque parts are the animals' body parts:

In some views (as below), you can see two small, rounded lobesthey can look a bit like a little "bowtie."  These are the velar lobes (or velum) that the animal uses to swim.

In each view, I've zoomed out a little further.  Now I'm showing the entire egg mass:

These are the larvae, or veligers, of Fiona pinnata, the pelagic nudibranch I wrote about on 22 September.  I photographed a few of the older egg masses to document the later stage embryos, but I haven't had a chance to show you these pictures yet.  I was impressed with the height of their shells!  The veligers hatch from the egg mass, swim in the plankton for a while, then undergo metamorphosis into a juvenile nudibranch similar to the one I showed in last month's post (they'll lose these beautiful larval shells at metamorphosis).

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