As Phyllodensium Nudibranchs are uncommon, bizarre and attractive at the same time, they always make a good Blog post. Specially when they are found in numbers. Having blogged some weeks ago already about the Solar powered Nudibranch, it’s today the turn of the Kabira Phyllodensium (Phyllodensium kabiranum). As they are very well camouflaged when feeding on Soft Corals, they are very hard to spot – but once you found them, they make a very attractive subject. Specially, when they are isolated from the soft coral, like this one in the picture. At the moment we are finding 5 of them at Nudi Retreat – but we are also seeing them at some other Dive Sites here in Lembeh Strait.
The blue highlights in its brown tentacles make it already very attractive – but when you pass the right moment of the surge moving all it’s cerata to one side, you can see its beautiful orange base. Keep looking within Heteroxenia and Xenia corals and you might find one.
It seems to me, that we see a lot of Phyllodensium Nudibranchs at the moment. We encountered 4 different Types only yesterday – and 3 Solar Powered Nudibranchs (Phyllodensium longicirrum) on a single dive at “Tanjung Kubur”. The one you can see on this picture was a smaller one. As i was preparing for the shot, i realised, that there was a little fish hiding between the Cerata (tentacles) of the Nudibranch. It turned out to be a little Wrasse seeking shelter within the “arms” of the Solar Powered Nudi. This shot was taken in a brief moment, when the Wrasse came out of its solar powered home.
Even though we also saw a Blue Ringed Octopus, 2 Ambon Scorpionfishes, a Flamboyant Cuttlefish, Hairy Shrimps and other cool Critters on this dive at, the little Wrasse hiding in the Nudibranch was still my personal favourite of this Dive.
We were 6 Divers and had Johan, Stenley and Marnez as Guides with us.
Rating Critters is a very subjective thing, but i have to say, that the Bornella anguilla is for me something like the “Queen of Nudibranchs”. For her cool shape, her nice colours and the absolut fantastic swimming behaviour – she moves her tail like an eel (therefor the name) and swims at a speed you would never think a nudibranch is be able to reach. So i was very delighted to find one on today’s morning dive … i screamed into my regulator and watched it for about 45 minutes. Whenever it started to get annoyed by my flashes it just started swimming off into another direction. A unbelievable dive. But even more unbelievable was, that – after not having seeing a Bornella for the whole year – i found another one on the second dive 😉
As i am always happy to find Nudibranchs, that are different from the ones, that we usually see in Lembeh. So it was quite satisfying to find a bunch of Lomanotus Nudibranchs. The Lomanotus live (like also Doto Nudibranchs) on Hydroids and are very small – they grow to about 1cm in size. The first one i saw some days back on a nightdive at the Waterfall (Nudi Falls 2) and the other ones at Nudi Falls itself. They were completely white … but this one, that i found at Nudi Falls, had bright red and attractive rhinophores.
Some Critters can be seen at daytime but others only at night – like for example the Bubble Shells: They are burried in the Sand during the day and come out at night. But this Wavy Lined Bubble Shell (Micromelo undata) must have been doing overtimes … our guide Paulus found it on yesterdays’s morning dive at Nudi Retreat out on the sand. Even seen at night, Bubble Shells are not very common, but finding one in the daytime is rather special. A cool find for our guests Tyra and Dustin that finished one week of diving with Paulus as their private guide. Have a safe flight home guys and see you again next year!
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.
Nudi Falls is one of the dive sites in Lembeh Strait that you can dive over and over again – at night, in the morning, for the second morning dive or for the first one. And it is always nice. Some of our guests requested to go to Nudi Falls again so that’s why we went back there yesterday morning for the first dive. The critters were all there and we saw countless different nudibranchs and shrimps (including some nice Hairy Shrimps). But the most beautiful thing if diving there first thing in the morning is that there can be very beautiful sunrays in the shallows – specially when the visibility is as good as it was yesterday. This picture is taken in 4 meters of water right under the boat. Thanks to our Dive Guide Joni for posing for this picture …