“Some of nature’s most exquisite handiwork is on a miniature scale, as anyone knows who has applied a magnifying glass to a snowflake.“
I was reminded of this Rachel Carson quote today when diving but found myself changing the ending to ” . . . as anyone knows who has seen sea slug egg masses.”
The image here is the egg mass of the Pacific sea lemon (Peltodoris nobilis), a sea slug up to 20+ cm; it’s egg mass up to some 20 cm as well.
The egg mass is the result of the sea lemons lining up right-side-to-right-side and both becoming fertilized. Being a hermaphrodite is of course a good design when you are a slow-moving slug that relies on smell to find its way. More detailed information about sea slug mating can be found at this previous TMD blog entry.
Looking like rich, textured crocheting, the egg mass is indeed Nature’s exquisite handiwork. It’s intricacy rivals that of any spider’s web and, in my perception, surpasses any human nanotechnology.
Seeing such beauty serves as testimony of Nature’s perfection and complexity. How we humans are newcomers to it all, unable to truly grasp the billions of years of design that proceeded our walking upright on earth. It should further motivate us all to walk with much smaller footprints so that we do not blunder and crush the systems that are Nature’s exquisite handiwork.
Follow the link below for images showing a close-up on the egg mass allowing you to see the individual eggs; the mating of the sea lemons; the egg laying and predation by a leather star. Click here.
Note: The sea lemon is often mistaken for other dorid species such as the Monterey dorid. The easiest way to ID them correctly is to know that sea lemons have white gills.