SIX NUDI­BRANCH FANS SHARE THEIR TOP PICKS

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Getaway (South Africa) - - ESCAPE NATURE -

FAVOURITES

Carel van der Colff, scuba in­struc­tor ‘The four-colour nudi­branch can be seen in False Bay and up the South­ern Cape coast to Knysna and slightly fur­ther. Look on the walls of tidal pools or in eel grass in shal­low wa­ter.’

Jes­sica Toms, re­searcher and con­ser­va­tion­ist ‘I love this Eubranchus which we found in Lam­bert’s Bay on the West Coast. Its ju­ve­nile form is tiny (less than 4mm) and looks like a lit­tle sheep.’ Eva­nia Sny­man, PE-based div­ing in­struc­tor, and Ge­orgina Jones, au­thor and ‘nudi­branch guru’ both love the frilled nudi­branch ‘A su­pe­runusual species, only known in South­ern Africa and doesn’t look like any other nudi­branch in the world,’ says Ge­orgina. Lisa Beasley, free­d­iv­ing in­struc­tor and cham­pion of Cape Town’s tidal pools ‘With its fuzzy pink “coat”, the vel­vet dorid is the pret­ti­est. I love that it seems to have a puz­zled fa­cial ex­pres­sion – its rhinophores (ten­ta­cle-like or­gans on top of the head) move in op­po­site direc­tions.’

Jenny Stromvoll, un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­pher ‘I love the sea swal­low’s sur­real dragon-like ap­pear­ance.’ Nor­mally found off­shore float­ing on their backs, some­times they get blown ashore and wash up on the beach or get stuck in tidal pools. They look like, and prey, on blue bot­tles.

EAS­I­EST TO SPOT

• Cape sil­ver­tips are the most com­mon and a good place to start for any bud­ding en­thu­si­ast.

• Or­ange clubbed nudis are mostly found in the False Bay kelp forests, but also up to Sal­danha Bay and in some tidal pools.

• There are four species you will al­ways see on a dive around Port El­iz­a­beth, says Eva­nia: the gas­flame plus frilled, sil­ver and vari­able dorid. They are all easy to see and grow to be­tween four and nine cen­time­tres. • Oth­ers to look out for [not pic­tured] are iri­des­cent nudi­branchs (‘Su­per-easy to find,’ says Ge­orgina), five species of polyc­era (‘Look in rock pools and deeper wa­ters,’ says Jes­sica) and hal­gerda (‘They are reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to our lo­cal tidal pool in Ponto do Ouro,’ says Jenny).

HARDER TO FIND

• Bae­o­lidia mobeii preys on anemones and is ex­tremely hard to spot, spe­cially in tidal pools.

‘It mim­ics anemones to per­fec­tion,’ says Jenny.

• Candy nudi­branchs are quite tricky to find, and even trick­ier to pho­to­graph be­cause of their tiny size.

• Oth­ers to look out for [not pic­tured] are Fla­bel­lina

– very rare, though it popped up quite fre­quently on Jes­sica’s West Coast dives – and the three-spot. ‘I’ve only seen it three times. I have no idea why it’s so rare (pos­si­bly its food source is scarce) but find­ing it is ex­cit­ing,’ says Ge­orgina.

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