Friday 24 April 2015

Tritoniopsis elegans

Image: Sean Murray

Anyone missing a lung?

Image: Sean Murray
This gorgeous nudibranch comes from the western part of the Indo-Pacific, ranging from Africa to Japan and parts of Australia.

There they cruise the ocean floor and feast on soft corals.

Image: crawl_ray
Looking down
Tritoniopsis elegans reaches just 5 cm (2 in) long so you may want to bring your magnifying glass along to take a good look at their exquisite form.

I guess the face full of tentacles wouldn't be the first thing to catch your eye. Nor the sensitive rhinophores that rise up like antennae from their head and end in yet more, tiny tentacles.

Image: Nemo's great uncle
No. The first thing to catch the eye are the rows of branching cerata that line their back. These complicated structures are not only beautiful, they're also useful. The nudibranch uses them to take in oxygen, so the branching shape increases the surface area so they breath that much easier. It's just like an actual lung, except it's on the outside and not nearly as horrible as that sounds.

T. elegans ranges in colour from pearly white to orange-red. When you look at the white ones it looks like a wintry scene of an icy lake surrounded by snow-covered trees. Gorgeous!


Crunchy said...

Ugh. Looks like some horrible creature's severed tongue!

TexWisGirl said...

it does! ice-covered forest. :)

Lear's Fool said...

It's a Mandelbranch!

elfinelvin said...

I can't get enough of these creatures! Their variety is unlimited! Beautiful.

Joseph JG said...

@Crunchy: A horrible creature's beautiful tongue! With sticky-out taste buds to better appreciate the flavours.

@TexWisGirl: Yeah, a little wandering winter scene!

@Lear's Fool: Aaahhh! First I was all Mandel... what? And then I was all "ooooooooh!"

@elfinelvin: I know! The shapes, the colours, the weird bits sticking out. You never know what you'll see next!

Lear's Fool said...

Feel free to rename it!

Egads, is one of my things now?