This beautiful aeolid nudibranch has received its specific epithet owing to the fact that when feeding upon its food of choice, the Xenia soft corals, it truly is cryptic. The cerata mimic the tentacles of the coral’s polyps so well it is most usually only observed when out in the open transiting between colonies and then only because the long rhinophores protrude above.
The translucent cerata permit the branches of the digestive gland within to be easily seen. The arrangement of nodules along the edges of the cerata on the outside surface is characteristic of the species.
Unlike most other aeolids, species of Phyllodesmium do not possess the cnidosacs full of nematocysts that they sequester from their prey for defensive purposes. It is suggested that the nematocysts of the soft corals they feed upon are unsuitable for this purpose.
Phyllodesmium crypticum has instead a gland at the end of each ceras, seen as a white tip, which produces defensive secretions. This species also very readily autotomizes its cerata thus distracting an attacker so that it may make its escape.
Photo and text by David Mullins, Nudi Ledge, Currimundi, Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
We embarked upon this adventure of ours while diving here on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Upon realizing the amazing variety of nudibranchs we were seeing, we developed an appetite for not only finding as many different species as possible but identifying and learning all we could about these most amazing creatures of the sea.
nudibranch.com.au was born when a friend of Gary’s suggested we share our knowledge with the world. The site commenced in March 2003 when we set out on our quest to find, identify and record all of the nudibranchs here in our area. The ever changing sea and seasons give up new surprises every visit whether they are subtidal or intertidal.
We describe our searching and identifying component of the quest as The Treasure Hunt, and the recording thereof upon the web site as The Never Ending Story.
We welcome for inclusion on the site the findings of other workers in this area that we may not have yet recorded.
From this website a Nudibranch Identification book called Undersea Jewels - A Colour Guide to Nudibranchs was published in 2006. The book is a 'Colour Guide'. After all that is the first thing anyone remembers about first seeing a Nudibranch.
LOCATE, RECORD, IDENTIFY and POST every species of OPISTHOBRANCH to be found on the Sunshine Coast Queensland, Australia. Learn more>
To LOCATE through scuba diving and intertidal searching.
To RECORD by underwater and studio/taxonomic photography (including microscopy photography) of the specimens.
To IDENTIFY these speciesthrough invaluable support fromqualified authorities in this field and developing reference resources.
To POST upon our web site not only images of the species and their natural history behaviour but also information concerning size abundance and localities. Additionally to disseminate to other sites information considered unusual (see Useful Resources).
Towards achieving these aims we will continue to acquire and develop the necessary equipment, resources and knowledge.
Have fun, learn and enjoy the Earth's greatest creatures!