Cyerce orteai Valdés & Camacho-García, 2000
Since 1993, the National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) in Costa Rica has been conducting an intensive survey of mollusks along the country's Pacific Coast. In early 1995, the Institute received the Príncipe de Asturias Award in Scientific Research presented by the Spanish government. Later that year, Dr. Jesús Ortea and Dr. Angel Valdés (at that time a Ph.D. student), both from the University of Oviedo in Spain, came to Costa Rica to meet with me and the rest of the INBio team in the Guanacaste Conservation Area, which began INBio's opistobranch inventory in Costa Rica.
In January 1999, during a fieldtrip to Cabo Blanco (Tempisque Conservation Area), the INBio team collected an unusual nudibranch we thought was a new record, but which needed confirmation. We kept the specimen for a few days in a small aquarium until Dr. Valdés from the University of Oviedo in Spain could arrive. The nudibranch turned out to be a Cyerce, the first record of the genus for the eastern Pacific.
The main distinctive features of Cyerce orteai are the presence of numerous tubercles on the cerata, rhinophores, and oral tentacles, and the long and slender radular teeth, which have two different sets of denticles. This combination of characters is not present in any other species of the genus. The color of the body is pale cream, with olive-green speckles and brown spots; the pericardium is white; the head, rhinophores, and oral tentacles are dark brown with opaque white spots. The cerata are dark brown to pale green, surrounded by opaque white dots or glands, the tubercles are translucent with an opaque white spot.
This species is named after our mentor Dr. Jesús Ortea ("Kankel") who was the first person to introduce us to the colorful world of opistobranch mollusks.
Cyerce orteai has subsequently been collected at several sites along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. It has also been collected in Maui and Oahu, Hawaii and in Nayarit, México.
Valdés, A. & Camacho-García, 2000. A new species of Cyerce Bergh, 1871 (Mollusca, Sacoglossa, Polybranchiidae)
from the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Bulletin of Marine Science, 66 (2):445-456
Thanks to an agreement between the California Academy of Sciences and INBio, I am getting my Master's degree in Marine Biology at San Francisco State University. I am currently working on the phylogeny of the cryptobranch dorid Jorunna. As curator of mollusks at INBio, I am conducting an inventory of the malacological fauna with emphasis on opistobranchs in the pacific and caribbean coasts of Costa Rica.