Hancockia californica

Photo courtesy of Allison Vitsky
Point Loma, San Diego, Calif
Feb. 2009

Hancockia californica MacFarland, 1923

This is by far the wildest specimen of Hancockia californica I have ever seen. While this species displays a wide pallet of colors, this specimen doesn’t come close to any on the WWW, I can find. One of Frank Mace MacFarland’s first species descriptions, specimens are more commonly white to brown with white specks. Allison’s blue ornamented critter is spectacular. When I first looked at the photos, the blue patches through me off and I forgot to even look for more palatable diagnostics like the shape of the rhinophores, velar appendages and cerata. Once I got a grip on myself, I could see the velar appendages and cerata were clearly palmate (hand shaped). In this dorsal view, we can clearly see the palmate cerata set on arches. This species ranges up to 15 mm in length, and occurs in the waters between Fort Bragg, California and Costa Rica. What an exciting find. I really need to add this color to Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs .

Good show Allison!

Dave Behrens
Gig Harbor, Washington
Feb., 2009

WEBMASTER'S NOTES: Just a subtle reminder fellow sluggers not to think you have seen it all! Allison's find reinforces the need to go into the water with an open mind and a investigative spirit! Having good eyes also helps!

Allison at play with friend

I am a veterinarian hailing from Florida, where I was first certified in 1993. My open water course was a gift from my mother, who wanted someone to scuba dive with her on a planned trip to Cozumel. My mom's diving career was short-lived, but I became addicted. In 2006, I picked up my first underwater camera during a trip to the Solomon Islands. On this trip, I saw my first nudibranchs and also fell in love with underwater photography. A work move to San Diego in 2007 put me in an ideal position to pursue both obsessions (and surround myself with people of like mind!). Most of my free time is spent diving in La Jolla and Point Loma, fiddling with camera and dive gear, and pulling out my well-worn credit card to purchase more camera gear and trips to visit exotic nudibranchs. I am currently using a Canon Eos 20D and Canon 60 and 100 mm macro lenses in a Subal housing with dual Ikelite DS125 strobes.

Send Allison email at avitsky@msn.com

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

Send Dave email at dave@seachallengers.com

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