Tambja eliora

Tambja eliora (Marcus and Marcus, 1967)

Specimens have been reported from Bahia Magdalena and from various sites throughout the Gulf of California.

The body color varies in darkness, from yellow-ochre to a brown-grey. Overlying this variable base color are distinctive turquoise-blue bands margined with a thin black line. The rhinophores and gills have the same color variations as the body. The size of the adults ranges from 25-50mm, although larger (80mm) specimens have been reported.

Tambja eliora is one of the swimming nudibranchs. It wiggles its body from side to side. The end result is that it gets up into the water current, and can be carried away from its predator Roboastra tigris. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. You know predator-prey activities! Mike (webmaster) and I tried to photograph Roboastra eating T. eliora, only to waste film as the prey swam away.

The egg mass of this species is remarkable. A turquoise, ochre-yellow, and black lined animal lays pink eggs ! Interestingly, this is the same color egg mass as its congeneric relative Tambja abdere . .

In Bahia de los Angeles, the distribution of the Tambja species and Roboastra is quite well defined: on the islands in the bay. However, on the reef between Islas Ventana and Cabeza de Caballo, there is another distinct niche separation. Tambja eliora tends to be in the shallower regions on top of the reef, whereas Tambja abdere tends to occur most frequently on the vertical cliff or rock faces on the slopes of the reef.

This species has a synonym: James Lance published an article 2 weeks after the original Marcus & Marcus eliora paper, in which he named the species Nembrotha hubbsi. Carl Hubbs was a marvelous scientist, natural historian and student of our water. But the rules of priority do not recognize such talents; they only deal with dates of publication. This is how scientific nomenclature maintains a semblance of stability. On a personal note, I wish Jim's paper had been published 3 weeks earlier. I'm sure he does too. Maybe the moral in all this, is that science is too preoccupied with the scientists. We need to emphasize the life we are studying.

Text by Dr. Hans Bertsch

Dr. Hans Bertsch

Assoc. Prof.
Dept. of Math and Natural Sciences
National University
192 Imperial Beach Blvd. #A
Imperial Beach, CA 91932
FAX (619) 423-9118
Send Hans E-Mail at hansmarvida@cox.net

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