Nudibranchs – One of the World’s Most Amazing Creatures

Sea Swallow nudibranch, from Mar Azul in Malpais

Costa Rica and Montezuma are known for the big fish in their waters. Whitetip sharks, manta rays, different species of whales and much more are all found in the diving spots here. However, one shouldn’t overlook the smaller guys out there. Diving across the pacific coast of Costa Rica can be an amazing experience for you especially if you happen to come across one of these rare and amazing creatures. Divers these days often list Nudibranchs as one of their favorite animals to discover. They are fascinating, with their bizarre bodies and bright patterns. Nudibranchs are some of the most vividly patterned and unusually shaped creatures in the underwater animal kingdom.

The name Nudibranch literally means “naked gill” which they use for breathing through directly. Some types of Nudibranch have a tuft of tentacles on their backs which are used for self defense and respiration in various cases. One of the species of Nudibranch found in the pacific coast of Costa Rica is the Elysia diomedea type which is characterized by black and yellow lines on its rhinophores. It typically grows to about 50 mm in length and is found at a depth of 20 meters. It has a much folded parapodial edge which can sometimes be found scattered in blue/red/orange spots. The Elysia diomedea provides nutrition for its own body by retaining living chloroplasts which photosynthesize within the body of the Nudibranch.

Elysia Diomedea nudibranch from tidepools near El Penon in north Santa Teresa

Nudibranch found here

The Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica is one of the most popular spots when visiting this beautiful region. When it comes to marine life and Nudibranch, the Nicoya Peninsula is known to be spotted with the Elysia diomedea type. There is the Cabo Blanco Marine Reserve in the Nicoya Peninsula as well which hosts a variety of Nudibranch including the Elysia diomedea. Accessible from Montezuma, Tortuga Island is a small serene island, famous for its snorkeling waters where Nudibranch can also be found. Another place to look for them in Costa Rica is the surrounding shore waters in Cabuya, especially Cabuya Island, which is next to Cabo Blanco’s protected reserve. An “elysia_diomedea” can be seen in video and link below. Another species I’ve seen is the beautiful “sea swallow” shown in the photo at the top of this page.

Cabuya Island Nudibranch Video:

Video of Nudibranch at Cabuya Island: Nudibranch Cabuya

References:

http://www.nudipixel.net/photo/00015037/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nudibranch

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