Eubranchus sp.(?)

Image courtesy of Ken Cone and Beth Van Zummeren
Viti Levu (near Musket Cove), Fiji

Boy!, Ken Cone and Beth Van Zummeren certainly have a knack for coming up with the new and unusual! Recall their BOW 1217 BOW last year that Scott Johnson took up the challenge on! Scott was kind enough to forward their lastest finding!

Their latest entry seen above and to the side has our panel of experts thoroughly stumped! At first glance and the first candidate that comes to mind is Eubranchus ocellatus. But upon closer examination, there seems to be several dissimilarities that might tend to disqualify E. ocellatus as our unknown! What is the solution? DNA analysis of course! But who has a rapid field test for this kind of determination? Just putting you on readers as this kind of analysis can take some time!

Well, what about a smart phone app like the wife has on her Iphone which allows her to identify plants by uploading an image of the flower! Pretty heady stuff but probably not realizable in the near future as it pertains to sea slugs!

Dave Behrens has the best take on our unknown! "...Wow - this is one beautiful Eubranchus. It doesn't match anything Scott or I have seen. The inflated cerata and brown specks on the notum are characteristic for sure. If I had to give it a common name, I'd name it the "Fried Egg Eubranchus" for the fried egg-like spots on the cerata. Corny, I know. Oh well, we don't have much to say about this species. Keep your eyes open..."

What I would like to digress on is how Ken and Beth were able to get these incredible images in the first place! You can bet a lot of effort and know-how went in to capturing the images! To quote Scott in BOW 1217-"..Thanks to Beth and Ken for their sharp eyes and photo skills. The more we see, the more we learn.." I think Scott's observation certainly hits the nail on the head!

Michael Miller
San Diego, Calif 92113
Aug., 2022
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Scott is also the Webmaster of Marshall Island Sea Slugs

Ken and Beth at Torrey Pines State Park
San Diego, Calif

As of 2022, we are on the 18th year of our 4-year trip on board our sailboat "Eagle's Wings." After setting off from the Chicago area in 2004, we soon found ourselves hooked on cruising and nixed the 3-year plan. For many years we sailed between New Zealand (our "home away from home") and the South Pacific tropical islands. We have been serious about underwater photography since 2012. Since late 2019, we have been marooned in the Marshall Islands, due to Covid.

Last year our friends John and Lynette of "White Hawk" introduced us to the amazing world of shallow water nudibranch diving. We love being able to take our time and spend long hours hunting, observing, and photographing the strange and exotic creatures that live under rocks in 1-2 meters of water. And at that depth, a tank of air can last more than three hours.

Ken uses a Nikon Z7 in a Nauticam housing, 60mm macro Nikon lens, CMC-1 wet lens, two Sea&Sea YS-D1 Strobes, and one Sola Video 2500F light. Beth scouts using a 3-power magnifying glass from and we both use the Dive Alert Buddy Watcher system to signal the other person when we spot something interesting.

The area where we found the creature is on the inside of outer most western reef near Musket Cove in Fiji (in the Mamanucas). We have been diving only on a low tide, as current and surge from waves over the reef make it too difficult to stay in place at higher states of the tide. We also need very light wind conditions -- fortunately this part of the Mamanuca Islands is often in the wind shadow of the big island (Viti Levu). The trade winds can be howling everywhere else in Fiji, but we are in this magical pocket of light air.

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