Unidentified Flabellina from California's La Jolla Canyon.
Just when you think that in of the most heavily studied nudibranch areas in the world has been exhausted of new finds, wham bam, here's another new one. And just in time for Christmas.
This weeks species of interest is a beautiful, yet unidentifiable Flabellina. At first glance it was thought to be a pale Flabellina trilineata (O'Donoghue, 1921), but then not. While superficially similar to both Flabellina pricei (MacFarland, 1966) and F. cooperi (Cockerell, 1901) it isn't quite the perfect match with either.
Mike and I queried some of the finest minds in Pacific coast Branchology, but were unsuccessful in drawing a consensus. The dark ceratal cores and white specks suggest F. cooperi. The specimens shown here are lighter in color than Hamann's specimen presented in Pacific Coast Nudibranchs Species # 164, page 83. One problem here is that F. cooperi is extremely rare and most of us have never actually seen a living specimen.
In the words of one expert, the species most closely resembles F. pricei in that the cerata appear to be coming from a raised base, but unlike it in that they appear clustered. I agree, but we are still no closer to positive ID.
Hans and Mike's specimens were photographed in the La Jolla Canyon of San Diego County, California at a depth of about 45 feet. One specimen was observed to be feeding on the pink hydroid Tubularia, the recorded food of F. cooperi, but one fed on by several Flabellinid species. The official decree of course awaits dissection of the radula and reproductive system of a collected specimen .
Well, the best and warmest of Christmas cheer to each and every one of you.
May you too find a new species be under your Christmas tree.
Taxonomic information courtesy of Dave Behrens
David W. Behrens
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