Kalinga ornata bringing Christmas cheer

Image courtesy of Alexis Principe

Photo taken at Anilao pier during night dive in 25 ft. of water (circa 2013)
Batangas, Philippines

Camera Equipment: Nikon D200, 60mm macro lens + 1.4 Teleconverter, Sea & Sea housing and INON Z240 Strobe

Image courtesy of Jan Kocian

Kalinga ornata Alder & Hancock, 1864

Kalinga ornata is truly a unique species and the perfect animal to celebrate the Holiday Season with. Its branched dorsal appendages, with ornament-like light producing organs, make it look like a whole grove of shiny Christmas trees. The trivial name "ornata" could not be more perfect.

Originally this amazing dorid nudibranch had been known only from damaged, beached individuals, looking quite different from the glorious, brilliant living specimen shown here.

When described it was thought to be an elusive deep-water species, it has now been observed as shallow as 15 feet deep. The unique bright red, tuberculate notal processes, which are similar to those found on animals of the sister phanerobranch genera Plocamopherus and Kaloplcamus, suggest it can produce light.

Studies by Japanese researchers have found that Kalinga feeds on brittle stars. In fact they have identified 17 different species of this prey. Obvious in Alexis' unbelievable photo above, you can clearly see the slugs mouth open and crunching down on a star. What a fantastic photo.

Specimens of Kalinga can be quite large, over 130mm in length, yet brittle stars don't have much body mass to fulfill the nutritional needs of the slug. This suggests that the slug must need very large numbers of stars to support itself, hence its speedy search across the bottom.

With a wonderful sea slug, Alexis, Mike, Jan, Hans and I would like to wish each and all of you a very Happy Holiday and a Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Dave Behrens
New Braunfels, TX
Dec., 2023
Send Dave email at davidwbehrens@gmail.com

And the supporting cast that made 2023 a really exciting year for sea slug enthusiasts!

Alexis at left with Terry Gosliner, Gerald Allen and Roger Steene at Club Ocellaris
Anilao,Philippines (circa 2013)

From left to right, Terry Gosliner, Angel Valdes, Dave Behrens La Jolla, Calif.

Send Dave email at davidwbehrens@gmail.com

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