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Anilao is famous for its variety of nudibranchs, that it has been tagged the “nudibranch capital of the world“.

Nudibranchs, also known as sea slugs, are soft-bodied marine snails. The word “nudibranch” comes from Latin nudus meaning “naked” and Greek brankhia meaning “gills”. They have a pair of oral tentacles on their head which are sensitive to touch, taste and smell and another pair of sensory tentacles on their back, called rhinophores, which detect odors. Nudibranchs are simultaneous hermaphrodites and typically deposit their eggs within a gelatinous spiral.

They are carnivorous. Some feed on sponges, hydroids, and bryzoans. Others are cannibals, eating other sea slugs, or members of their own species. There is also a group that feeds on tunicates and barnacles. To protect themselves from predators, the nudibranchs developed toxic or bad tasting glands in the skin and their bright colors warn predators of their horrible taste.

Nudibranchs are sometimes referred to as “Jewels of the Sea” due to their fantastic coloration and patterns. It is always very exciting to find a nudibranch when diving and it takes a trained eye to spot these critters. They easily loose their shape and color when taken out of the sea thus protecting them from getting fished out by collectors.

The best way to bring a nudibranch home is to take its photo“.


PHOTOGRAPHY: Dave & Paz Santos (Anilao, Batangas, Philippines)

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