Giving your Nudi an identity
So now you have all these fabulous Nudibranch photos, how do you find out what their names are? Are you more interested in the scientific name or the common name?
The first thing to do is save all the photos you’ve taken into a folder and label it with the date and place of your dive. Then sort through your pictures and choose the best. I usually create two folders: a ‘sorted’ folder and a ‘to keep’ folder, then you won’t get confused. After a bit of a crop and colour balance, your photos are ready to identify, then you can post them on your favourite website for all to see.
Now it’s time to be the detective and this is the part I really enjoy. Since there’s over 3000 species of Nudibranchs, how do you find out which ones you’ve seen? Maybe you’ve seen one that’s not been identified yet! I find this very exciting.
There are hundreds of reference books to choose from and usually they are region specific so if you’re diving all over the world then it might not be practical to get one for every region. There is a book called ‘Nudibranchs of the World’ which you can get for $108 from Amazon, but since the wonderful world of the web is available so readily, I think this is the easiest way to go.
I found this fabulous site www.nudipixel.net, which is a wealth of Nudibranch information and has a search engine for easy reference. But before you visit this site, why not just Google a few words and see if you can find the image of your Nudi? Pick the main colour of your slug (or if it’s spotted, striped etc) and with the word Nudibranch, you need to click on images area instead of the website view and scroll through to see if you can see one similar to yours.
Once you find the image then put your mouse over the picture and it should give you its name. Type that into the search engine in nudipixel and you have all the information you need about your new friend. If you find you’re getting the common name only, type ‘scientific name’ after the word Nudibranch and you will most likely have more luck.
Nudibranchs belong in the Phylum Mollusca and Class Gastropoda. From there are 237 Genus names, the family name, then the whopping 3000 species to follow. It can get a little confusing but you can just focus on the species name or the common name, I like to know both. Sometimes you can have a laugh at the species name with ones such as pustulosa (which has little puss like nodules on its back) fortunata (is camouflaged very well which is rather fortunate) and whitei (which is indeed white).
The more you look into these lovely creatures, the more you’ll like them and it’s so interesting to learn how different they all are in not only their looks but habits as well. I hope you enjoy your new world of Nudibranchs.
Story and photography by Kelly Luckman