Monday, January 31, 2011

Fun night in Bali and a new challenge!

Graham rescued me from the monsoon last night and took me to a great little local sushi and jazz place.  Wow, there was some amazing local talent!  They did some fusion jazz and had some crazy chicks singing in a Tina Turner like fashion... then they brought up a dude who rapped to jazz... and I overheard him later inviting people to see him pay flamenco guitar.  Flamenco guitar and rap.  Now that's unique.

The sushi was awesome and the waitstaff wore these killer t-shirts with little pictures of sushi all over them.  As dorky as they were, I needed on for myselft and immediately added one to my collection.

Graham and I had some great nudibranch centric conversations.  I know, enough to make anyone insanely jealous.  He talked about many malacologists and trips he's taken with them.  I need to sign up for one of his upcoming trips.  Check out his website:

He left me with a new challenge.  To count the number of UNIQUE nudibranchs photographed and identified on a trip.  I guess I usually do this by organizing and labeling my nudi shots, but he just raised the bar on my dive trip ratings.  Nudi <sighting> Stars!

Meeting a fellow malacologist for dinner


I writing this while I am stranded in a downpour at the poolside bar.  I should really say monsoon.  It is coming down so hard I don't even think I can make the sprint back to my room!

I am going out to dinner tonight (sushi and jazz) with Graham Abbott.  I met Graham on the Peter Hughes Stardancer a few years ago.  He is a crazy Brit who now lives in Bali.  

He is also a mad malacologist.  In fact, he puts me to shame.

He runs trips to Indonesia for people to find nudibranchs.  Nudibranch safaris if you will. He keeps trying to get me to sign up for them but they are usually in the fall...when I'm not necessarily ready to get outta Chicago yet.

This upcoming year he's got a trip going with Teri Goslinger whom I met recently... So I just may cave in!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Nudi Sex Talk

So, now that we know the anatomy of a Nudibranch, it's time for the Nudi Sex Talk.

Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites.  They have both male and female sex organs. 

Nudis use chemoreceptors in their rhinophores to find a mate. 

Since the sex organ is only on the right hand side, they line up next to each other head to tail, tail to head.  They can only copulate in the '69' position.  <insert juvenile laughter here>

After they fertilize each others' eggs, they crawl away, smoke a cigarette, and lay elaborate egg masses that look like a rose. If you ever happen upon one nudibranch laying eggs, there is often another one nearby doing the same thing.

Note that after mating, fertizilation may not take place immediately.  The sperm from another nudibranch of the same species may be stored in a special organ called the seminal receptacle for months until the environmental conditions are just right.

Nudibranchs in the Aeolid suborder have elaborate courtship foreplay before mating.  They participate in gentle touching of each other's bodies with questing cephalic tentacles.  These whole body caresses are all part of getting to know each other.  Copulation can take minutes, hours, or even days!

Today is the day!  I am about to leave for O'Hare.  I tried to check in online and I realized that my trip from here to Bali is a 35 hour trip (and that's if everything goes well)!

I loaded up my new iPad with lots of books and Angry Birds, so I should have plenty to keep me busy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Anatomy of a Nudibranch

Nudibranchs have a very specific anatomy.  They are named for their naked gills, those frilly things that stick out of their butt are how they breathe.

The rhinophores are like little antennae.  They help the nudibranch by using chemoreceptors to find food and a mate.

It eats by using its velar appendage. 

Aeolids have special frilly tentatcles all over its body called cerata.  Often these cerata are brightly colored and filled with toxins.

Nudibranchs are hermaphrodites and have both male and female apparatus.

It mates with the genital aperature which are only located on the right hand side.

Now that we've covered the nudi anatomy, stay tuned for the Nudi Sex Talk!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For the Science Geeks

If you are like me and you need to organize everything and figure out which compartment each item should reside, you'll need to know where the nudibranch falls in the Scientific Classification.  Here ya go...

Kingdom:  Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
Subclass: Opisthobranchia
Order: Nudibranchia

Within the Nudibranch Order, there are four Sub Orders:
- Dorids
- Dendronots
- Armins
- Aeolids

OK, now that we are done with the boring stuff, we can move on!

Monday, January 24, 2011

What is a nudibranch, exactly?

According to wikipedia, the word "nudibranch" comes from the Latin nudus, naked, and the Greek brankhia, gills.

So this creature's lungs are on the outside.  These gills can be quite elaborate and fluffy...  almost like a five year old ballerina's tutu.

But the bottom line is that a nudibranch is a sea slug.  A very beautiful, colorful, patterned sea slug.  It's a snail without a shell.

But to me (and many others), it's so much more.  They are like the Butterflies of the Ocean.

Neville Coleman said it well in his book 1001 Nudibranchs:

"The fun is in the finding."
Adding to the unknowns and extending the known existence of species diversity and knowledge is what keeps most nudibranchers enthralled and those that get "bitten" are usually "hooked" for life.

However, let it be known that if after your dive, your divemaster tells you that you brought up a "nudibranch", it usually means you have a slimey booger on your face.  Rinse thoroughly before exiting the water.  ;)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


As most Chicagoans will be cheering on the Bears while they 'pack' the Packers today, I'll be 'packing' as well... for my big trip to Indonesia.  I leave on Saturday 1/29 to chase my passion for finding and photographing nudibranchs!  I fly from O'Hare to Houston to Russia (!?!?!?) to Singapore to Densapar Bali.  Then I overnight at Puri Santrian before taking the private flight to Wakatobi, a diver's paradise.  There are only two flights to Wakatobi every month (and that's the only way to get there).

Then I spend a few days at SCUBA Seraya.  I've been there before but this time I may just dive their beach, Seraya Secrets.  I've heard that there are over 100 species of nudibranchs found there alone!

I wrap up my trip with a week at Malaku Divers.  An old crewmate from the Palau Aggressor, Marcel is the manager there now.  This is where they found the psychedelic frogfish last year.  I hope he knows exactly where that frogfish lives, but more importantly we need to find some new crazy exotic nudibranchs I can photograph and post on my Nudi Girl wall.

If you are interested in following along with my Indonesian Adventures, subscribe to this blog and I'll keep you posted as I have internet access.

Just one more week of this Chicago winter weather!