Chromodoris michaeli
Photo courtesy of Roger Steene
Batangas, Philippines

Chromodoris michaeli Gosliner & Behrens, 1998

This is the fourth of five new species described in Gosliner & Behrens 1998. Chromodoris michaeli is named for my son, Michael David Behrens. What more can I say - when you've got a great kid and you're looking for a name for a great branch - wa la. A strikingly beautiful chromodorid, it has been mixed up with Chromodoris annae Bergh, 1877 in collections from the Philippines for some time now. Terry first noticed differences in 1993, and began to collect specimens for closer internal examination. Since that time we had referred to it simply as Chromodoris not-annae. A large species, reaching 46 mm, it is appears powdery blue due to fine speckling of white over its blue-brown ground color. A white line edges the margin, inside of which is a wide submarginal bright orange band. Inside the pale blue body area, is a black band which encircles the animal well posterior to the gills and anterior to the rhinophores. This band is discontinuous in two spots on the head and behind the gill, in all specimens examined. Often the band is wider towards the middle of the animals body. Within the boundaries of this black band are black spots which vary in size, shape, number and position on the notum. Several specimens had variations of a broken black band down the center of the notum. The hyponotum is powder blue, the edge of the foot orange and has three lateral black stripes. The gills and rhinophores are burnt orange throughout.

Chromodoris michaeli falls within the group of chromodorids with light blue body color, orange marginal band and black pigment on the body. These include: C. elizabethiana, C. hamiltoni, C. quadricolor, C. annae and C. westralensis. The first three species have a continuous black medial line around the dorsum. C. westralensis has a broad black medial patch connecting the two lateral lines. C. annea differs externally due to its black pigment showing through the blue notal color, rather than the white speckling as in C. michaeli. The blue pigment is also a soft light blue in C. michaeli, rather than the Navy blue of C. annae. The black submarginal band is almost always continuous posteriorly in C. annae, while always interrupted in C. michaeli. Michaeli always has a medial anterior black spot within the anterior break in the black band on the head. Internally, there are several differences, most importantly in the reproductive system and in the distribution and shape of the mantle glands found within the notal tissue along the margin of the dorsum.

Up until the description was published last month,Chromodoris michaeli was known only from three localities in the Philippine Islands: northern Mindanao; Mactan Island, Cebu; and Batangas Province, Luzon (see Colin and Arneson, 1995 for gorgeous photo). Since the paper has come out Bob Bolland has sent us photos of specimens indicating its presence in the Ryukyu Islands, Okinawa.

Because my wife Diana and I are so proud of Michael and so pleased with the opportunity to dedicate this species to him, we have chosen its likeness as the Logo for our business - Sea Challengers Natural History Books, Etc.

Dave Behrens and son Mike on Trail to Velma Lakes, Sierra Nevada
When my dad said "Son I don't ever want you to go into banking" I listened. But when I told my son Mike "Please don't follow the old man into Marine Biology, there's really no future in it" he smiled and replied, sorry Dad I can't live without it. And so the story goes. Michael Behrens finished his undergraduate studies at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, last year, graduating with honors, among which was the University Biological Societies, Outstanding Senior of the Year recognition. Mike has always been interested in mollusks and opisthobranchs, and did his Senior Project on the effect of varying temperature regimes on shell growth and morphology in genus of marine snails, Alia.

Mike lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his fiance, Michelle, who is completing her graduate degree at Cal Poly. From there it is on to his graduate studies, hopefully at the University of Washington.

One of the few gainfully employed people I know in Marine Biology, Mike is a field biologist at the Diablo Canyon Power Plant site in central California, employed by Tenera Corporation, one of the environmental consultants. His routine tasks include studies monitoring the effect of the thermal discharge of the power plant on nearby intertidal and subtidal communities, and impacts of the plant operation on the nearshore plankton populations.

When not chasing early AM low tides, or bucking the offshore swell at Diablo, or helping Michelle prepare for their wedding this coming June, he is a volunteer with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department Search and Recovery Team.

In the photo of the two of us shown here, taken a couple of years ago, we were certainly not suited up to collect nudibranchs together, but rather to enjoy the high Sierra back country of Desolation Valley. While both of our schedules lately preclude the opportunity to enjoy this passion, we will remember our treks forever.

Taxonomic information courtesy of:

David W. Behrens

Author: Pacific Coast Nudibranchs
Co-Author Coral Reef Animals of the Indo Pacific
Propriator of Sea Challengers Natural History Books

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