Nembrotha c.f. mullineri

Image courtesy of Wayne Lovell
Secret Garden, East Timor
Image taken with Fuji Fnepix fd100

Nembrotha c.f. mullineri, Gosliner & Behrens, 1997

There has been quite a bit of discussion about this specimen. Many think it's an undescribed species, but I live in the camp that believes it is a color variation of Nembrotha mullineri, named after dear late friend, Dave Mulliner of San Diego, California.

The disagreement stems from the circular spots on the body. If we study the photos on page 115 of Indo-Pacific Nudibranchs, we see the more common variation of this species. They all have spots, but they are not circles. The same can be seen in Neville Coleman's Nudibranchs - Encyclopedia, on page 351. But, if you look carefully at the photos in both texts you will see that each spot has a dark spot at its center. When Terry Gosliner and I described this species we noticed that this central spot is in fact the orifice of the mantle glands which secrete chemical metabolites when the animal is disturbed.

In the specimen above these openings in the mantle are orange, adding to the aposomatic warning coloration of the species. Studies show that members of Nembrotha biotransform alkaloid chemicals from the tunicates they eat, into noxious chemical defensive secretions called "tambja amines."

Bright colors to advertize their defense system of nasty chemicals - the evolution of chemical defense and aposomatism in opisthobranchs is simply amazing.

Dave Behrens
Sammamish, WA 98074
Apr., 2013
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Wayne Lovell

Wayne Lovell came to Timor-Leste in 2000 to open what is now the country's longest-established dive centre, FreeFlow Diving . A native of London, United Kingdom, he was a TV and photo journalist for 20 years, covering a range of stories including the siege of Sarajevo, the fall of the Berlin wall, and conflicts in Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq, Congo, Kurdistan and Kosovo. His photographs have been published in many international newspapers, Time and Newsweek, whilst his video has been aired on major networks including ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, ITN and Channel 7 Australia. He was a Senior News Producer for Reuters Television and was part of the SBS team that won a Walkley Award for their coverage of the Timor-Leste 2007 Presidential Elections.

He is an enthusiastic supporter of marine conservation and worked with the scientific mission from Charles Darwin University on their marine survey of the coastal areas of the Nino Konis Santana National Park. He pioneered many of the dive sites featured in the Underwater Photo Competition and has done more that 5,000 dives in Timor-Leste. A keen underwater photographer, he has a particular love for the rare and unusual critters to be found in these waters, especially nudibranchs. He is also dedicated to promoting the active involvement of Timorese youth in the development of the country's dive tourism industry.

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

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