Hexabranchus sp.

Images courtesy of Andrew Podzorski
Cape Paperu on Pulau Saparua, near Ambon, Indonesia

Image courtesy of Andrew Podzorski

Hexabranchus sp. (juvenile, undescribed)

This one really threw a curved at us. I concluded that it was one of three chromodorid species, but was wrong on each. Terry Gosliner (California Academy of Sciences) hit it out of the park with a surprising identification. Turns out Terry and his team are examining the genus Hexabranchus and have learned that what we called the Spanish Dancer, Hexabrancchus sanguineus, is actually a species complex. You will have to wait for the paper to learn, just how many species it represents.

Now as for Andrew's critter, Terry pointed out the obvious, adding that it is the juvenile of one of the new species. What I overlooked was: 1) the characteristic gill, comprised of six distinct separate gill branches (hence its name), which are not retractile, and 2) that the margins of the mantle are beginning to roll characteristically over the dorsum. Once you realize these - bam - yep - Hexabranchus.

I would love to see Andrew's critter swimming, flapping its mantle like the adults do (see drawing below). That would be a sight to see.

Dave Behrens
Sammamish, WA 98074
Feb., 2022
Send Dave email at davidwbehrens@gmail.com

Drawings courtesy of Dave Behrens

Started diving in 1977 with the Jamaica branch of the British Subaqua Club (JSAC). I qualified as a BASC Advanced Diver/CMAS *** in 1978. As a freshwater botanist in the University of the West Indies, I had collaborative projects with the marine labs at Port Royal and Discovery Bay. I had the privilege to be personally taught about Caribbean corals by Nora Goreau. My first underwater photos were taken in Jamaica with a NIkonos 2! It was impossible not to become passionate about reefs with the great people in the JSAC and the marine labs. I left Jamaica in 1980 with some 425 dives and spend a short time diving with the Institute of Marine Affairs in Trinidad. There I helped with research collection of sponges on the north coast of Trinidad, on Chacachacare and in the Grand Boca, and we even found a new species of ahermatypic coral. Moving on from there, I did some freshwater diving in the USA and cold water diving in southern Sweden, snorkeling and free diving in the Galapagos, before returning to reef diving on the west cost of Saudi Arabia, Queensland, the Philippines, Thailand, and quite extensive diving in mid to eastern Indonesia. Quite some time ago I stopped counting dives when I reached 2000, though I take notes, documentary photos and record the profiles of all dives.

With the travel restrictions imposed by Covid, and finding out how little money is donated to charities supporting reef conservation, I decided to use my knowledge and photos to create a website to encourage people to donate to Greenpeace, Sea Shepard, Conservation International etc. Reef Image-Stories - Help save our reefs!

Camera: Nikon D750 with a Nikon 105mm macro objective in a Seacam housing with Seacam Seaflash 100D strobes.

Send Andrew email at acpuhl@outlook.com

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