Kalinga ornata photo taken by Alexis Principe
Kalinga ornata, Alder & Hancock, 1864
This amazing dorid nudibranch had been known only from beached individuals until recently. We now have several wonderful insitu photographs and new ecological information about the creature.
Originally thought to be an elusive deep water species, it has now been observed as shallow as 20 feet deep. The unique bright red, tuberculate notal processes, which are similar to those found on animals of the sister phanerobranch genera Plocamopherus and Kaloplcamus, suggest is can produce light. Japanese researchers are attempting to document this phenomenon in association with Kalinga ornata .
For years we have speculated that due to its rapid foraging and burrowing behavior it was a predator on some soft bottom species, but were unsure of what species it was going after. Rie Nakano and her colleagues in Japan have solved that question, finding that Kalinga feeds on brittle stars. In fact they have identified 17 different species of this prey. Obvious in Alexis' unbelievable photo above, you can clearly see the slugs mouth open and crunching down on a star. Fantastic.
Specimens of Kalinga can be quite large, over 130mm in length, yet brittle stars don't have much body mass to fulfill the nutritional needs of the slug. This suggests that the slug must need very large numbers of stars to support itself, hence its speedy search across the bottom.
Observations like this are adding greatly to our knowledge of these amazing creatures. Thanks Alexis.
This nudibranch was found during a night dive at Anilao Pier at around 25 feet. I immediately recognized it and signalled my guests to take pictures and video, and after the dive told them how it is one of the most uncommon nudibranchs and rarely seen in shallow waters. We returned the following night and spending most of the dive with it, we were able to capture feeding behavior on images and video.
Alexis caught the diving bug in 1992 while in college. Graduating with a degree in BS Zoology and specializing in Marine Ecology, he found himself doing Coral Reef Assessments, specifically in Reef Fish identification and population assessments for work. For a time, he was also involved in NGO-work focusing on Coastal Resources Management in and around the Philippines -- assisting and capacitating fishermen and coastal communities in setting up marine sanctuaries by conducting seminars and workshops to bridge the gap between science and local knowledge. In 2002, he began moonlighting as a dive guide in Club Ocellaris in between his regular work as the Environmental Officer and Research Coordinator for the Dos Palmas Marine Research Station until 2008. His first shots as an underwater photography hobbyist were taken using a Canon G2 during this period. He currently spends more time guiding underwater photographers in Anilao, Batangas and occasionally joins Reef Assessment and Monitoring Surveys, the latest areas being Apo Reef National Marine Park for the World Wildlife Fund and Lubang-Looc (largest Marine Protected Area in the whole Verde Island Passage) for Conservation International.
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WEBMASTER'S NOTES : One of Alexis' guests Dustin Adamson was able to capture the feeding process with a Canon 5d Mark II equipped with a 100mm macro lens and a +10 Subsee Diopter. Something I thought couldn't be done with a full frame sensor DSLR. The video in the Japanese presentation above was also taken with the same Canon 5D Mark II, so the proof is in the pudding! Check out Dustin's video on Vimeo !
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