Guest relaxing poolside at Villa Markisa
"Caulerpa mimic" (identification unknown)
This incredibly interesting species has evolved a simply fantastic disguise. It is uniform pale green in color. The cerata are green, spherical resembling a clump of the algae, Caulerpa racemosa, which it feeds on and is well camouflaged. The basal portion of each ceras forms a thinner stalk, and is striped.
It looks superficially like the sacoglossid Stiliger smaragdinus but has small, solid rhinophores, not rolled, on the anterior part of its head. The head of Stiliger smaragdinus is not round like Christiane's critter here. Because the rhinophores are not consistent with those of a Sacoglossan, and because the head is a round, hood-like shape, it could be a species of Melibe. We need to get a shot of the underside of the head to be sure. This is an invitation to all photographers.
This unusual beast reaches about 25 mm in length and is known from Milne Bay, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
This beast is just one more of the surprises to come in the new - Nudibranchs and Sea Slugs - Indo-Pacific, coming out this fall.