SIX NUDIBRANCH FANS SHARE THEIR TOP PICKS
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.