Creature Feature:11/12/13 Revealed

IMG_0670 It’s Fall! The R/V Robert G. Brownlee  is currently docked in Richmond, and will move to San Francisco for the second half of November. During our fall satellite season, we catch many invertebrates and fish that are not seen as frequently down in the South Bay. One of these groups of invertebrates is the Nudibranch. Hermissenda crassicornis Nudibranchs are extraordinary creatures that have evolved in unique ways. These soft-bodied mollusks are related to land slugs and snails, and shed their shells in their larval stage. Many species are brightly colored, a warning to predators that they may be poisonous to eat. Nudibranchs are sometimes called sea slugs, but they are slightly different from a true sea slug. DSCN2355Have you ever heard the phrase “You are what you eat?” Nudibranchs take this phrase to the extreme! Those that feed on hydroids are able to assimilate the stinging cells, nematocysts, to use in their own self-defense. Those who feed on plants are able to use the chloroplasts to produce food for themselves. And sponge eating nudibranchs are able to concentrate the toxins from their food in their own bodies, becoming poisonous to predators. Some species even produce acid to release from the skin! These defenses usually don’t do much harm to the predators –  they simply irritate or stun the predator so the nudibranch can get away. Next time you see one of these small yet brilliant animals think about what you can create based on their unique abilities (Biomimicry). Check out Biomimicry Student Design Challenge


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