At Semakau yesterday, polka dot nudibranchs (Jorunna funebris) were out and about like little cows on the reef flat, swinging from the seaweed and gliding over the rubble. Some pairs were frolicking in a final foreplay, while others were still scrounging for the abundant porifera that protrude in such numbers that it's nigh impossible to move about without stepping on some. The distribution of patterned blotches on the slug's body appear unique to each individual, while the naked branches that serve as gills can range from rich and frilly to sparse and small. Some animals were extremely large (5 cm+), like fat little cows that had overdosed on a field of blue sponges. Those that had hooked up prepared their phalluses (or phalli?) for a sideshowdown of sperm exchange and the hope of new flocks of chubby sea
cows slugs in the seasons to come.
The pudgy polka-dots would probably have to keep a rhinopore out for this lean and mean cousin. With pretty orange spots, Gymnodoris rubropapulosa preys on predators, chasing down other nudibranchs and devouring with relish their own mate after making out. From the looks of the blueish tinge in its abdomen, this fellow probably made a meal our of a fellow opistobranch lately. The Dendrodoris denisoni above left is a less ferocious creature save for the sponges whose tissue gets externally digested by a mouthful of enzymes. I think the quartet of little phyllids we found are also sponge feeders. For some, these genial grazers are slimey sluggies whose gaudy garb only raises the eek factor. But on this quiet shore ringed by roaring refineries and fragile reefs that may not outlast our insouciance, treasures of wonder and wormwood await discovery in these movable feasts of neglected festivity.