Kalinga ornata (Alder & Hancock, 1864)
Kalinga ornata has been known for a long time. It was originally described by Alder and Hancock from Coromandel, India. It has been found sporadically from isolated localities ranging from South Africa to the Hawaiian Islands. It is usually an inhabitant of subtidal waters. I have seen records from 16-36 meters depth. It has been beautifully illustrated in the suppplement to Kikutaro Baba's Opisthobranchs of Sagami Bay and photos of the animals appear in Willan and Coleman and in Kay and Schoenberg's Hawaiian shell book.
Little is known about its biology. It is much broader than the phanerobranch dorids to which it is most closely related (things like Plocamopherus and Kaloplocamus). This probably accounts for some of its "alien" appearance. Virtually nothing is known about its biology. Mary Jane's observations that it is nocturnal and burrows in the sand explain why it has not been seen very often. Its behavior of probing the bottom and everting its mouth is very curious. Its relatives all feed on bryozoans, but what it is doing is very mysterious. Its broad body and wide oral veil are convergent with notaspideans that inhabit the same region, things like Pleurobranchaea brockii and Euselonops luniceps. It sure looks like a macro-predator, but we obviously lack the information to say this conclusively. It is a really amazing beast!
Kalinga ornata was found on a night dive at a depth of twenty feet in Milne Bay, PNG . It is about 65 mm wide in front and about 65 mm in length. It was moving fairly rapidly over the sand in a random pattern. The twelve white projections in front were gliding over the substrate and appeared to be searching for food. Every one to two minutes it would stop and the mouth would project out beyond the feelers and suck up some minute particle. The outer part of the mouth is red and can be seen through the mantle as a pink area. The inner part of the mouth is a white tube-like structure that projected beyond the red part when feeding. Please excuse my clumsy description, I donít know the technical names for all the body parts. I tried to fan the sand off of it, but it seemed to be adherent. I didnít touch it, just watched it for a long time. Eventually it burrowed down into the sand. The "alien" had returned to a subspace of its own!
I am looking forward to another great year of diving in Milne Bay and I hope all my best buddies will be joining me.
Send Mary Jane mail at mjadams@earthlink
California Academy of Sciences
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