Two red sponge nudibranchs at Spaniard Rock

Sea life: Red sponge nudibranch

Two red sponge nudibranchs at Spaniard Rock
Two red sponge nudibranchs at Spaniard Rock

Last year I did a dive at Spaniard Rock in False Bay. Tami was my buddy, and Georgina Jones of SURG was with us. Georgina is the author of the invaluable Field Guide to the Marine Animals of the Cape Peninsula, and it was during an interlude when Tami had gotten lost that she found and showed me a red sponge nudibranch (Rostanga elandsia). These animals are remarkably well camouflaged – they feed on reddish orange sponges, and get their colouration from the sponge.

I went off hunting after that, and found and photographed another red sponge nudibranch (above) that upon closer examination turned out to be two: there is one just above the top shell near the middle of the photo, and another on the right hand side pointing downwards. You can just see that there are small, darker spots on their bodies.

Next time I spot one I’m interested to see whether they leave marks in the sponge where they’ve been feeding. They are very hard to spot, though!

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Clare

Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

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