RSS This sea slug wants to be a fish so bad…

MASA Admin

8 May 2007
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Most of us fantasize about being something we were not — Hermy wanted to be a dentist, everyone wanted to be like Mike and this sea slug wants to be a fish.

Meet Phylliroe, a nudibranch that is about the size of a goldfish, and instead of slinking along the ocean floor, Phylliroe swims through the water looking for jellyfish to much on. Using the hornlike rhinophores on its head, it sniffs out jellyfish and its foot (that most nudis and seas slugs use to propel themselves along the sea floor) to hold on to its meal. The foot is practically gone except for a bit near its mouth that works the food into its mouth.

Since Phylliroe is clear, you can see its meal passes through the digestive tract, which is powered by digestive glands–those white zigzag lines you see. And the story of Phylliroe gets even more interesting. Instead of working through the digestive track and defecating out its back side, our swimming nudi actually uses an anus located right in the middle of its right side.

But this story gets even better. This sea slug, like Rudolph’s nose, actually glows. As one of the few nudibranchs known with bio-luminescent abilities, observers have noted it produces an exceptionally bright and beautiful light show.

The story of the Phylliroe is strange and wonderful and still quite a mystery. They are elusive creatures making them difficult to study as they are observed in the deep sea, mostly at night and are dependent on one food source. Check out the video below from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) for a closer look at this amazing creature.

[via Deep Sea News, Photo (c) Fabien Michenet /]
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