Dendronotus sp.

Photograph courtesy of Oliver Thornton
Wreck of the Liberty
Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Its the first dive after a two-day journey with nearly thirty hours in the air. Videographer Alan Grant and myself can't wait to get wet but are pondering the wisdom of taking the camera units in on the first five.Its always a dilemma. Flooding a housing on the first dive is a bad karma for the rest of the trip. Assembling a system under the influence of jet lag and other factors has led to many an disaster. Anyhow, we both "whimped" out and decided to go in without cameras to check out our other U/W gear. Big mistake!! Fifteen mintues into the dive we came upon a what looked to be an Aeloid of some sort crawling along the bottom! It was different however and when it took off swimming after being more closely examined, I was sure we were onto something unencountered in previous trips. But with no camera systems we weren't in a position to document the animal.

As luck would have it, Oliver Thornton from Germany contacted the Slug Site in regard to the identification of an unknown branch shortly after we returned from Bali. Same animal!! Also was able to obtain a shot from Emiko Shibuya (Dive Paradise) of the same Dendronotus sp. on a hydroid taken off the bow of the "Liberty" in about 100 ft. of water. Although said to be common in some other parts of Bali, it was my first observation at Tulamben in some four trips. Being persistent as Oliver was can have its rewards as we will see in his commentary!

The Webmaster
San Diego, Calif
Dec. 2002

Webmaster's Notes After "going to press" Sunday Dec. 1st identifying the animal as a Bornella sp. I received an email from Nishina Masayoshi in Japan suggesting that Oliver's animal may in fact be an un described Dendronotus which would be unusual for tropical waters. Nishina has a keen memory and was able to provide a link to Bill Rudman's Sea Slug Forum where a very similar animal was found by Lindsay Warren in SE Indonesia. I suspect and agree with Nishina that Oliver's animal and Lindsay's are probably the same. Possibly also Emiko's picture. I want to thank Nishina for being so ever vigilant.
Oliver Thornton

This is one that kept me busy for nearly two years. I saw this nudi the first time 2 years ago in Tulamben, Bali, at 45-50m in the reef below the wreck, I've seen many nudies during my 18 years of diving but this one seemed new. Out of the water, double tank, UW-sketchboard, down again. I started to sketch it (my Cam has a limit of 30m) and got through the different books of Debelius and others, some websites and even asked some professionals at the marine university in Kiel (germany) when I was back home, noboy knew this nudi. I got back the next year, with a cam (deep) rented for hundrets of dollars, got trough the complete reef but couldn't find it anymore...

This year, Tulamben again in June-September (long holiday) I just saw it at the wreck near the front gun one time and had my old Olympus 920Zoom in PT3 case with me. I was happy! And took many pictures... The autofocus blured most of them.

Tulamben got to be my second home during the many trips there. The marine diversity there is so enormous as I haven't seen such biodiversity in any other place of the world. New species are discovered there any year: e.g. the Lauriea Siagiani a purple coloured 3cm crab, discovered by Wally two years ago in Tulamben.

I've invested a lot of time and I'm now building up a small resort near the wreck of the Liberty together with Joe, the best scuba instructor and diveguide I've ever meet. You can visit him at Joes Diving . He has lived in Tulamben for about 8 years now and knows every species by name and where to find it. Want a pygmy seahorse? Ask Joe, he'll show you...

Oliver C. Thornton
Bonn, Germany
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