Tambja verconis

Photographed by Marc Chamberlain
Poor Knight's Islands, New Zealand
March 2009
Photo taken with housed Nikon F-5

Tambja verconis (Basedow & Hedley, 1905)

This week's subject prompted a search on Bill Rudman's Seaslug Forum for background information on a subject that evidently is quite common (provided that you go to the right parts of the world). At any rate I have never seen it live and was quite delighted when Marc sent in some images from a recent trip to New Zealand which included diving the Poor Knight's Islands in Northeastern New Zealand. Tambja verconis was named after Sir Joseph Verco , who also had the honor of having another species Verconia verconis named for him. T. verconis can often be found on or nearby one of its favorite foods the bryozoan Bugula dentata as seen in a second image provided by Marc!

According to Bill Rudman, T. verconis

".... store chemicals from the bryozoan in their skin which they use to protect them from attack, especially from the related nudibranchs of the genus Roboastra ...".

This defense mechanism is my no means fail safe as evidenced by a series of images on Rudman's site depicting Roboastra luteolineata devouring T. verconis . This is somewhat analogous to the behavior observed in the Gulf of California where Robastra tigre will actually stalk Tambja abdere through the presence of residual chemical compounds (Tambja amines) in the slime trail of T. abdere . These same compounds in higher concentrations will act to repel R. tigre thorough mucus secretion similar in process I suppose to T. verconis .

Hey, who says film is dead? Marc's image certain follows in a long tradition of his in capturing the essence of the animal in a manner most of us can only aspire to! The richness of the color and sharp focus are his trade marks! Rumor has it that Marc purchased a Nikon D-300 to herald his entry into the digital world! If true, Marc is the last film hold out from the group of us that dove together back in the 80's and 90's in the San Diego area as part of the San Diego Underwater photographic Society (SDUPS).

Mike Miller
San Diego, Calif
July, 2009

Michelle,and Marc Chamberlain gearing up at Andy Lamb's Cedar Beach resort
in preparation for a dive in the southern Gulf Islands off SE Vancouver Island.
Photo courtesy of Neil McDaniel
Marc and Michelle Chamberlain reside in the Pacific Northwest Seattle area. They enjoy cold water diving and take advantage of their location to enjoy same whenever possible. They also travel abroad, often combining land and water opportunities as in the New Zealand, where they did extensive bird watching in addition to the jaunt to the Poor Knight's Islands (which I am going to put on my places to visit list).

Marc in his time in San Diego was club Photographer of the Year so many times that I lost count! In fact Marc came to mind last summer during a trip on the Catalina Express from Dana Point. Due to a loading snafu, the bag containing my camcorders was stowed down below and therefore unavailable during the hop over to Catalina. Well, you guessed a Blue breeched about 50 feet off the boat and hung around for about 10 minutes for everyone onboard to get a shot. That is with the exception of yours truly! During the remainder of the voyage the only thought that came to mind was "if Marc has been onboard he would have been ready." That be the difference folks between those who dream and those who actually do it!

Send Marc email at chambemc@u.washington.edu

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

Send Dave email at dave@seachallengers.com

© The Slug Site, Michael D. Miller 2009. All Rights Reserved.