Nudibranchs: Toxic Rainbows of the Sea

Make a Clay Nudibranch

Make a Clay Sea Anemone

Nudibranch Workshop

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A Dorid Nudibranch
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An Aeolid Nudibranch
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In this display you can...

  • Make a clay nudibranch in The Workshop.

  • Colour in a sea anemone for the coral reef.

  • Make a working model of a nematocyst.

  • Marvel at the stunning photographic images.

Nudibranchs are marine snails with no shells. They are found in every ocean in the world.

They have fascinating shapes and extraordinary patterns and colours....

If you can imagine it, there's probably a Nudibranch to fit the bill!

The word "nudibranch" comes from the Latin word nudus, naked, and the Greek brankhia, gills,

because of the tufts of branch-like gills on many of them.

There are more than 3,000 known species - new ones are found almost daily!

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Nudi Bodies

Dorid (humped) and aeolid (feathery) nudibranchs look different....

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A dorid nudibranch

Nudibranchs have very small eyes that only sense light

and dark so they are basically blind - not a problem

because of their rhinophores.

Rhinophores taste, smell and feel the ocean.

They detect chemicals that tell the Nudibranch everything

it needs to know, like where food is and where other

nudibranchs are.

The soft mantle is often covered with bumps called

tubercles.

Hidden in the mantle are acid glands and spicules.

Nudibranchs taste horrible if you are a fishy predator!

Their feathery gills "breathe" in oxygen from the water.

Oxygen also enters directly through the mantle skin.

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An aeolid nudibranch

The mantle in aeolid nudis extends into bizarre shapes -

long fingers, cones or fans - the cerata.

Inside the cerata are branches of the digestive gland.

The tips of the cerata store stinging cells from sea

anemones, soft corals and hydroids eaten by the

nudibranch - weapons ready to fire at predators.

The cerata also increase the surface area of the mantle

for absorbing oxygen.

The oral (mouth) tentacles identlfy food by taste and

touch.

A Nudi Dinner: Weapons in Disguise....

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Anemones
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Hydroids
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Soft Coral
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Sea sponges
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Algae
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Barnacles

Nudibranchs are carnivores and get their colours from what they eat.

Some nudis recycle the foul-tasting poisons and stinging cells in their food.

The colours help camouflage the slug while the poisons and stings help defend them.

Nudi Links:

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... and more! Anatomy facts and games for Seniors here.

... Nudibranchs for Juniors here


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Nudibranch Photo Gallery here.......................NZ Nudibranchs here