Yesterday, I introduced my daughter to the wonderful world of nudibranchs.
And yes, I’m pretty sure she’s still laughing at the name. She’s four and a half, after all. But truth? I’m NOT four and a half, and the name still makes me chuckle. I mean, NUDI? Come on.
Yes, these sea creatures may have a silly-sounding name—which comes from the Latin nudus (“naked”) and the Greek brankhia (“gills”)—but they are seriously cool. And yeah, super-duper colourful.
There are over 3,000 species—and counting—of nudibranchs found in our oceans. Some our poisonous, some can make sounds that are actually audible to humans, and some are even solar-powered.
Solar-powered sea slugs? Yup. I just learned that some species of nudibranchs basically steal plant parts to survive. Huh? Okay. Let me try to explain. While munching on algae, they ingest the chloroplasts found in green plant cells—the tiny little molecules that conduct photosynthesis.
(You remember what photosynthesis is, right? Probably learned all about it in science class way back when… )
So, yeah. These nudibranchs can go nine months or so without eating, merely surviving on the energy the chloroplasts in their slimy (yet beautiful) little slug bodies harvest from the light.
You might call it photo-slug-thesis. No? Okay, cool.
Nature is wild, you guys. And I love it.