Bursatella may be one of the most butt-ugly opisthobranchs known. It has been referred to by many names including the "shaggy dog." The two specimens webmaster Mike found in Bali last month should make their mother proud. These two with their bright blue spots are actually quite pretty.
Bursatella is a circum-tropical species found in every tropical ocean accept the Pacific coast of Mexico. Because of this some biologists feel there are seven or eight geographical subspecies. Each of these has very slight differences in color and shape of body ornamentation. Subspecies are designated by a third name in their scientific name like - Bursatella leachii pleii , the species found in Florida and the Caribbean. All have the characteristic branched papillae on the body, and bright colored eye-spots scattered over the body. As seen in Mike's photos Bursatella clearly does not have the large mantle flaps, or parapodia, like Aplysia , and therefore cannot swim.
Bursatella feeds on algae-like, mat-forming cyanobacteria. Like other sea hares it lays large bundles or masses of eggs which look like yellow rope. As noted on Bill Rudman's Sea Slug Forum this species is often observed in shallow waters in amassed in large numbers.
Bursatella is one of the sea hares that gives off purple ink when disturbed. On this matter I just have to reprint here one of my favorite Bill Rudman sea hare stories that can be found on his web site. As Bill tells it --
"One interesting silly 'fact' concerning Sea Hares. The Ancient Greeks use to believe that you would die if you touched a Sea Hare. Even the great philosopher Aristotle believed it was true because in those times learned people decided what was true by having long learned arguments. The person judged to have the best and wittiest argument was the winner, facts were seldom, if ever, considered necessary. Using facts and observations to test ideas about the world around us was seldom considered necessary until the 1600s when 'science' developed as a method of understanding our world. The lesson from this is that you shouldn't believe everything you are told."
Another lesson learned from our lowly sea slug friends. Have a great day.
For the second installment of my digital experience in Bali this October, I would like to discuss the pro's and con's of my experience with lighting devices during the trip. With the exception of my onboard Olympus 750 flash, the other light sources used were all manufactured by Epoque (Japanese). I used the EL-1020 video light for focusing and it performed flawlessly. The same cannot be said for the two Epoque DS-150 strobes used as slaves for fill lighting. While they are compact, inexpensive and certainly met my lighting requirements, they are for the most part junk! The sealing flap on the battery compartment is poorly engineered and can easily lead to a flood. Although I knew about this defect prior to the trip, one of my two strobes flooded three days into the trip. Fortunately the second survived until the last day of the trip when it began firing randomly. A service report on the second strobe indicates extensive flooding also. Doing a little investigative work after the trip I have determined among my circle of acquaintances that have used the Epoque DS-150, all have experienced a flood which in most circumstances is fatal! The strobe enjoys the same dubious reputation in Japan where the manufacturer has taken the position that the strobe was not designed for the stress that underwater photographers are putting it through. Very strange position, what then was their intended market????? Anyhow the bottom line on this strobe is that although you're getting in cheap up front, the price may go up on an extended dive trip when the strobe fails and leaves you without a exterior flash!!
What do you think??
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David W. Behrens
Pacific Coast Nudibranchs
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