Translated literally nudibranch means naked bronchi (lung). The name is due to the fact that they carry their bronchi (gills actually) externally, outside of their bodies. So their lungs are naked in a sense. Nudibranchs are snails, phylum Mollusca. Unlike most land slugs nudibranchs are beautiful! They often have brilliant colors and their gills and cerrata can be simple or intricate. They don’t need shells for protection as they carry poison in their bodies. Their brilliant coloration is a warning to predators to stay away, “I may be beautiful but I taste awful!” Some have obvious heads and others it is hard to tell whether you are looking at the head or tail. I always take pictures of both ends if I am not sure just in case what I am looking at is not what I think it is.
Nudibranchs are found in the ocean all around the world and I have photographed nudibranchs at home in California, in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and in the Philippines. Everywhere I go I find a new nudibranch to add to my photographic collection. They are a favorite thing to photograph, not just because they are so beautiful and photogenic but because they move slowly and are easy to photograph. In an underwater environment where things are flowing in the surge and fish swim away as soon as I point the camera at them finding a subject that moves slowly is a bonus!
I’ve picked out a few that I really like for you to see. All of these images were taken with a Nikon DSLR (D70 or D300) and a 60 mm Nikkor macro lens, sometimes with an external diopter on the outside of my port so I can get a closer shot.