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Some facts about Nudibranches and gastropods

Odd cousins

Nudibranches are Gastropods in the Phylum Mollusca, that same phylum that has Octopuses, cuttlefish as well as clams and bivalves.

Not for the weak at mind

All nudibranches are sea slugs, but not all sea slugs are nudibranches.

Both Latin and Greek

The word nudibranch comes from the Latin word nudus (naked) and Greek brankhia (gills), in reference to the gills or gill-like appendages obviously sticking out from the backs of many nudibranches.

Huge family

There are over 3,000 species of nudibranches.

Two of a kind

There are two main types of nudibranches and they are aeolid (below left) nudibranches and dorid (below center) nudibranches. Dorid nudibranches breathe through gills that are on their posterior (back) end. Aeolid nudibranches have cerata - finger-like appendages that cover their back.

You look like what you eat

Sea slugs eat colorful food, which gives them their brilliant color. In fact, some sea slugs ingest the venom from the species they eat and utilize this for their own defence. Glaucus atlanticus (above right) eats Portuguese man-of-wars and stores their venom for its own use, and touching them can result in a sting.

Male and Female

Nudibranches (and remaining sea slugs) are hermaphrodites, meaning they have reproductive organs of both sexes. Since they can't move too far, too fast, and are solitary in nature, it's important for them to be able to reproduce if the situation presents itself. Having both sexes means that they can mate with any adult that happens to pass by.

Short life

Nudibranches have a very short life cycle. Some may live up to a year, but there are some that would lucky to get past a few weeks.

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