The Sargassum Nudibranch, 20 May 2014

Scyllaea pelagica, the Sargassum nudibranch;
Volusia county, Florida (20 May 2014)

Not all marine gastropod mollusks live in shells, and this is certainly the case with the Sargassum nudibranch, Scyllaea pelagica. A member of Order Nudibranch, generally referred to as “sea slugs,” this species hitchhikes along with floating and buoyant Sargassum weed (a heterokont, not a plant). Sometimes it will linger about with weeds rooted down below, but it’s most frequently floating about the currents along with Sargassum — with which it is beautifully camouflaged. Sometimes, that Sargassum will wash ashore, carrying with it the nudibranch. Reaching lengths upwards to four inches or so, it’s easy to miss spotting this species tucked in the Sargassum. The camouflage truly is quite impressive.

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