I finally observed some of the most cryptic nudibranchs on our coast!
The Cryptic Nudibranchs you see here are only about 1 cm long and look at how astoundingly evolved they are! They are virtually invisible on the Kelp-encrusting Bryozoan which is growing on Bull Kelp at this time of year. This species of nudibranch is also known as Steinberg’s corambe (Corambe stinbergae to 1.7 cm).
You can see in the photos here that we found some of the nudibranchs mating and there were many of their egg ribbons (each of those coils has a lot of eggs that result from both parents becoming inseminated and laying eggs).
You can also see where they have been feeding on the bryozoans (colonies of animals).
I have looked for them for years knowing their range is from Alaska to Baja California, Mexico.
What made the difference in now being able to find them:
(1) Getting the clue from Robin Agarwal to look at the kelp fronds that were REALLY tattered with the Kelp-encrusting Bryozoan colonies .
(2) Having a skilled dive buddy willing to join me in burying our heads in old, tattered kelp in the surge for 30 minutes instead of looking at all the big, colourful life at this dive site. Thank you Janice Crook!
(3) Once we knew what the egg ribbons looked like (those s-shaped little masses), we had a really good clue and knew better where to look even more closely for the nudibranchs.
Now on to finding the SECOND really cryptic nudibranch species that feeds on Kelp Encrusting Bryozoans – Corambe pacifica to 1.5 cm long and whose egg masses are tiny, flat coils.
For more photos and my previous blog on what Kelp-encrusting Bryozoans look like, please see my other blog “Kelp Lace? Bryozoans”.
Photos: September 19, 2022, Browning Pass ©Jackie Hildering, The Marine Detective.