Creature Feature: Solar Powered Nudibranch
The Solar-Powered Nudibranch (Phyllodensium longicirrum, Solar-Powered Phyllodensium, Long-Cirri Phyllodensium) is one of the celebrities among the Lembeh Nudibranchs – everybody knows it and everybody likes to see one. The Solar-Powered Nudibranch (SPN) grows to 15 cm in size and is the biggest member of the phyllodensium nudibranchs. As other members of this group, the SPN farms Zoocanthellae algae in its Cerata (tentacles) to create energy through photosynthesis. The flat Cerata have a big surface an therefore lots of space for the algae patches that are separated into individual “solar panels” (that are visible as little brown spots).
The SPN feeds on leather corals of the type Sarcophyton trocheliophorium and stores their toxins to taste bad for potential predators. It usually hangs out around a leather coral until it has consumed it.
Best place to see SPN in Lembeh: Most coral dive sites like for exemple Makawide, Batu Sandar but also Muckdives like Aer Bajo or TK sometimes have SPN.
Photo Tip: Use a wider lens (60mm or wider) as the SPN is relatively big in size. For a big SPN sometimes even Wide Angle can be a good option. The Cerata swing to side to side with the surge … so a good technique is to position yourself in front of the head, prefocus on the rhinophores and wait for a moment when they are both visible.