Thordisa rubescens Behrens and Henderson, 1981
Its hard to explain, but every once in awhile a taxonomist like myself has to 'sigh of relief' when after years of exile, a species is rediscovered proving it wasn't a fluke and your recently described species really does exist, and actually lives where you once stuck your neck out and told the scientific world you found it. Thordisa rubescens is just one of those species. This photograph by Dr. Marc "Chambo" Chamberlain (he hails to other less admirable nick names as well) is only the second time I am aware of that this species has been recognized and documented since Bob Henderson and I published it's description back in 1981.
A large, typical cryptobranch dorid, it is red-orange in color with gold encrustations over the mantle. Some specimens have a sprinkling of dark specks, as seen in this photo. The name 'rubescens' was chosen to drawn attention to the red-orange color. T. rubescens has a velvety texture to the dorsal surface, formed by closely set papillae, each with protruding spicules, a characteristic referred to as caryopyllidic. Marc's photo shown here differs slightly from the one in Pacific Coast Nudibranchs, as the latter specimen had been maintained live in an aquarium for some period and the papillae had begun to shrink due to improper diet.
Bob Henderson, a man with a huge appetite for California Lobster, had
collected the original pair of specimens from his secret Lobster spot in
Palos Verdes, California at a depth of about 50 feet. Since then Terry
Gosliner collected a single specimen at San Clemente Island. Checking up on
his old buddy Dave, he dissected the specimen confirming the description of
the internal anatomy. Marc's specimen now brings the total to four
documented occurrences. I guess we might say this critters isn't especially
common, but its size and color certainly make it easy to see, if you swim over
one. Let me know when you come across this guy!
Send Marc mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Taxonomic information courtesy of Dave Behrens
Photograph courtesy of Dr. Marc Chamberlain
David W. Behrens
Pacific Coast Nudibranchs
Send Dave mail at email@example.com