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The Gem of the Sea

Bohol is famous not only for its Chocolate Hills but also for its abounding marine sanctuaries, scattered around the islands. Aside from fishes and corals, nudibranchs found its abode at the clear waters of Bohol.

Nudibranchs are among the most anticipated marine creatures that every divers and snorkelers are after when they take their dives. Their fantastic coloration and patterns and striking appearances that differ from one another is such a marvel to see. Its unrivaled beauty makes them worthy to be called “gems of the sea” and not just normal sea slugs. Though usually found at the depths of salty waters, nevertheless, finding new nudibranch is a very exciting and extraordinary achievement.

Nudibranch belongs to the group of sea slugs. Many are confused and assumed that sea slugs are nudibranchs but there are other species that belonged to the group as slugs and not as a nudibranch. These species belong to Phylum Mollusca/ Class Gastropoda/ Order Nudibranchia.

These delicate creatures are soft-bodied and shell-less. They shed their shells after their larval stage. Its name is taken from the Greek word “nudus” and “brankhia” which means naked gills as their secondary gills are exposed outside. They virtually live at any depths of salt waters and like any other gastropods; they are slow moving bottom dwellers.

There are almost 3,000 species of nudibranch found in seas worldwide. Their body forms vary enormously. Unlike most other gastropods, they are bilaterally symmetrical because they have undergone secondary detorsion.

Basically, its typical body is consists of oral tentacles, foot tentacles, eye, rhinophores and cerata. Cephalic (head) tentacles or “rhinophores” are sensitive to touch, taste and smell. Their eyes, which are set into the body, are simple and are able to discern little more than light and dark. Cerata are body projections of a nudibranch that aids in their breathing process.

Harmless as it seems, but these creatures can protect themselves from the predators. Many have developed toxic glands or horrible taste on the skin to discourage every predators from eating them. Their bright colors serve the same purpose as well.

Nudibranchs need to be on the ocean all the time. It cannot be preserved at your home aquarium nor be taken away from its habitat for they loose their shape and color, their luster. Constructing an artificially made micro-environment for these fragile creatures requires a very complex research. The best way to keep your memories alive is to take a photograph.

Seeing nudibranchs on wild and free is such a joy. See them in marine sanctuaries where they are admired by many but being protected and respected. And in Bohol is one of the places all over the world where you can see these lovely denizens of the sea, teeming in numbers. You’ll never get bored.

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