COLOURFUL, interesting, pretty – not words you would usually associate with slugs.
But these types of slugs are very special indeed.
They are sea slugs, or ‘nudibranchs’ and they were a topic of an identification course run by the St Abbs and Eyemouth Voluntary Marine Reserve recently.
Georgia Conolly, Marine Ranger at the Reserve said: “nudibranchs are strange and beautiful creatures but they can be very tricky to tell apart underwater.
“I organised this course so that divers would learn the skills to be able to identify different species of sea slug when diving and so that we can learn more about the wonderful wildlife living on our doorstep”.
The 10 course participants were led by Jim Anderson, a nudibranch expert who has travelled the world to study and photograph these amazing creatures.
The participants did two dives in the Voluntary Marine Reserve and found an amazing 27 different species of nudibranchs.
One sea slug that was found, janolus hyalinus, is very rare and has never been recorded on the east coast of Britain before.
Nudibranchs are related to the snails we find in our gardens but they live in the sea.
They have evolved so that they do not have shell – they have other mechanisms for defending themselves from predators.
Some nudibranchs will store the stinging cells of their preferred foods, such as hydroids, in the surface of their skin which makes them distasteful or poisonous to potential predators.
Many nudibranchs are also brightly coloured to warn off predators.
For more information about the wonderful wildlife of the Voluntary Marine Reserve visit the website, www.marine-reserve.co.uk.