Chelidonura punctata (Eliot, 1903)
With its orange spotted velvety black or chestnut colouration and long 'tails', Chelidonura punctata is one of the most attractive swallowtail slugs of the Andaman Sea off western Thailand. C. punctata is one of the larger swallowtail slugs, easily reaching 75 mm and filling the frame in this uncropped photograph. The species is found across the Indian Ocean and is certainly the most commonly observed species of its genus in the Andaman Sea.
Usually, C. punctata is found on hard corals in shallow reef areas where it is thought to feed on small acoel flatworms. It is also regularly encountered in large breeding aggregations. Chestnut-coloured individuals, sometimes considered a different species (C. castanea Yonow, 1994), are often seen together with jet-black animals in aggregations, so this form is perhaps a colour variant of C. punctata.
The above photo was taken in the Adang-Rawi archipelago, which is part of the Tarutao National Park of Satun province, Thailand's southernmost province on the western seaboard.
Lawrence is a newspaper journalist based in Bangkok, Thailand. He escapes the office as often as he can to go diving in the rich waters of the Indo-Pacific but his regular dive sites are just down the road at Pattaya in the Gulf of Thailand or at Khao Lak on the Andaman coast.
Lawrence uses a Nikon D200 in a Nexus housing with a pair of Inon Z240s. The photo at top was taken using a 105 mm macro lens.
Send Lawrence mail at firstname.lastname@example.org