We have reviewed this undescribed species before, but Mike's photo gives us the opportunity to discuss just HOW variable some species can be. Variations of this Hyselodoris can be found in Mike Miller's BOW 654 and as Hypselodoris sp. 11 on Bill Rudman's Sea Slug Forum. Even in Christiane's photo on page 269 of Indo-Pacific Nudibranchs shows just how different specimens can appear.
In BOW 654 I discuss the many occurrences of different species mating and the fact that no fertile offspring occur from these haphazard events. We also discussed that the internal differences such as presence acid secreting mantle glands in H. sp 10, which are absent in most other Hypselodorids. Last month we discussed Noumea sp., again, a species displaying incredible variation in color.
The specifics to understand here are, while the specimens my look very different, they all have consistent features. In this case - white marginal band followed by some type of purple, red rhinophores, gills with orange edge, tall gill opening, blue-purple line on edge of foot. All that we need to do now is not worry about what is not consistent - not the same in different specimens - i.e.: the presence or absence of something in between - of the purple patches on the dorsum. The consistent features far outweigh the inconsistent ones.
This is just one more example that I hope will help folks understand that external variation does not a new species make. It is the internal anatomy and phyllogenetic analysis that will make this call.
Mike Bartick PADI Wyland Event with California Diver Magazine
Mike Bartick is a Southern California local and an active diver
He discovered his first Nudibranch in the frigid California waters just off the SoCal coastline of Laguna Beach. Since then his admiration has bloomed into a full blown obsession that has lead him across the globe. His favorite diving is split between California, and The Philippines, more specifically Anilao.
He is a travel expert and guide to SE Asia and has assisted many groups and individuals to find and photograph the critters of their dreams. But his involvement doesn't end there, he is also the General manager for Crystal Blue Resort in Anilao Philippines and Banca Diving , the critter hub of SE Asia.
And while he admits that it feels good seeing your own work in print, its still about finding the critters, making friends and enjoying the dives.
Mike's work is published regularly in a variety of magazines, websites and he enjoys a staff position at California Diver Magazine
Nikon D300 and D300s