Nudibranchs – The Most Beautiful of the Slimy Critters

Posted in Under the Sea on October 3rd, 2009 by MadDog
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Nudibranchs are soft-bodied, shelless mollusks of which there are about 3,000 species. The name “nudibranch” comes from Latin (surprise!) nudus, naked, (surprise again!) and the Greek brankhia, gills. Why they decided to mix up the languages on this one, I don’t know. Maybe it just has a catchy sound to it. Nudibranchs carrry their lungs around outside their bodies, many in a rather flamboyant manner.

As slimy, naked slugs – shelless snails, so to speak, they are remarkably beautiful, and I mean all of them. I never saw a nudibranch that didn’t make me say (okay, think – it’s a little difficult to talk with a regulator stuck in your gob), “Oh, cool, man. I can dig it.”

In fact, they are unreasonably beautiful. Regular readers know that I think that something is responsible for all this. It’s just too easy to ascribe all the transcendental stuff in our world to this or that evolutionary advantage or pressure. I know it’s not scientific. In fact, as a life-long amateur scientist and a card-carring member of the AAAS, I feel odly embarrassed to say so. I guess it’s a product of my belief system, though I don’t think that it’s necessary to reject evolution to be a believer. And, by the way, I don’t.

Anyway, all of this seemingly unreasonably beauty is what attracts me to nudibranchs. That and the fact that they are so utterly harmless and seem to have no purpose in life but to be admired – much like myself, I suppose.

So, with that brief (because I’m going out diving this morning) introduction, I’ll show you a few images of these ridiculously gorgeous little slugs:

If you don’t examine anything else closely by clicking on one of the images to open the gallery, at least have a look at the pink curly things. Those are nudibranch eegs. Even they are beautiful! One might ask, “Why?” On the other hand, one might ask, “Why not?”

Fortunately, my faith doesn’t require me to care. I just find it amusing.