Ever put together and maintain a list of your "ten most wanted branches" to see and photograph? I do and Pleurobranchus weberi has been near the top of that list ever since my buddy Bob Yin photographed one at the Pearl Farm Resort, Mindinao, Philippines during a night dive many years ago. At that time the animal was thought to be a variation of Pleurobranchus forskalii but later consultation of a line drawing in Bergh's 1905 Voyage of the Sibogae , indicated that Bob's animal was in fact probably P. weberi . Although definitely uncommon, it has since been photographed in Indonesia and the Philippines. There is a very nice picture of P. weberi in Indo-Pacific Nudibranchs and Sea Slugs taken by Denise Tackett in the Manado, Sulawesi region of Indoenesia. P. weberi was also photographed in the Cebu region of the Philippines by both Erwin Kohler and Paul Osmond back in 2003 (courtesy of Bill Rudman's Sea Slug Forum ). Jeffrey de Guzman has also photographed P. weberi in the Anilao region of the Philippines where our story will unfold.
OK, fast forward to May 2009 (last month) when I led a group of branchers to the Anilao area to continue Opisthobranch diversity studies that began way back in 1992! The first couple of days were a little slow in terms of new sightings so I decided to spend some time watching the curation team in action (Terry Gosliner, Sandra Millen, and Clay Carlson). Lo and behold what do I see! A specimen of P. weberi that Terry had collected at the Secret Gardens Dive Site! The trip decidely swung into high gear at that point. Terry's specimen went back in with me to be recorded in High Definition Video during that evening's night dive. Fortunately for the sake of science, I did not lose the animal in the process! A couple of days later I found a second specimen underneath a rock which triggered my interest due to the presence of an egg mass right next to the rock! Two high defintion clips in flash file (FLV) format will be presented as part of this BOW.
You will need either a *.FLV file player or the latest version of Adobe Media Player to see the following video clips of both specimens in HD!
Last, but certainly not least, our group was honored to have Lulgi and Luli Bernas (Arroyo) has our guests during one day of diving. Luli is the daughter of the President of the Philippines and a spearhead in local marine conservation projects. They are now both dedicated slug watchers as a result of their experinece with our group!
Does it get any better?
Club Ocellaris, Anilao, Philippines, May 2009
From Left to right: Lugi Bernas, Luli Bernas, Sandra Millen, Clay Carlson, Jerry Allen, Terry Gosliner, Mike Bartick, and Mike Miller kneeling!
Not Pictured: Rie Nakano and Makiko Yorifuji from Japan
Also not pictured but an indispensable part of our team, the dive guides, who I consider to be the best in the Philippines in locating branchs!