Paradoris liturata, (Bergh, 1905)
This week we delve into an subject area not well understood even by scientists. One of the proposed defense mechanisms of nudibranchs is mimicry whereby different species acquire certain visual similarities to confuse or deter potential predators. In this case we have a dorid that without the presence of gills is a great stand in for Phyllidiella pustulosa , a very, very toxic member of the Phyllidiidae family. A great introduction to the world of mimicry as it applies to our slug friends can be found on Bill Rudman's Sea Slug Forum .
The similarities between Paradoris liturata and Phyllidiella pustulosa are quite remarkable. I sometimes wonder in Nature's time frame how long it took this "relationship" to evolve and how was it "catalyzed"?
For a long time Phyllidiella pustulosa didn't rank very high in desirability as a photographic subject from my personal point of view. That has changed as a direct result of being introduced to Paradoris liturata . I now almost always take the time to check out P. pustulosa for the presence of gills!
Last October on a trip to the Komodos with Ali Hermosillo, I got lucky and found one and took some so-so video . The branch isn't doing much of anything but another dimension is added with video.
Thanks goes again to veteran u/w photographer and long time contributor to the Slug Site Jim Black for his super macro branch shots!
I hope at some point in time Richard Willan down under has time to explore this fasinating mimicry relationship further!
Jim Black on location
Jim is retired from US Airways after 27 years as a pilot..., flying Captain on an Airbus 330 Internationally.
Diving since 1970...with over 5200 dives logged. Shoots Nikon F4s in housing and Nikonos RS.
Jim's photography has been featured in a number of books and publications including Helmut Debelius' Nudibranchs and Sea Snails of Gosliner, Behrens and Williams Coral Reef Animals of the Indo-Pacific. A photo of Jim petting a shark in "Sleeping Shark Caves" off Isla Mujeres Island, Mexico, taken by Amy Foster his significant other, recently appeared in Dave Behrens' Diving Guide to Cozumel, Cancun & The Riviera Maja.
Send Jim email at email@example.com