Here’s your Valentine’s blog item. It’s all about Big Orange Love – the reproduction of the orange peel nudibranch (Tochuina tetraquetra).
These sea slugs are very aptly named since their skin is reminiscent of both the texture and vibrant colour of an orange. But, the name does nothing to indicate the size to which these giants can grow. They are one of the world’s largest sea slugs with literature reporting them to lengths of up to 30 cm. However, I swear I have seen them larger in our area and will strive to get the photographic proof.
As if this sea slug species’ colour, size and beautifully intricate white gills are not enough to create awe, you should see their eggs! I will never forget the first time I saw the huge tubular mass that looked like udon noodles. I think my brain almost exploded and I was propelled all the more feverishly on my “The Marine Detective” path, wanting to be able to identify the egg masses of all sea slugs in our waters (each species’ eggs look different).
This is the time of year when the orange peel nudibranchs mate and lay eggs.
More on sea slugs and their eggs in previous blog postings at this link(scroll down).