100 Stunning Nudibranchs of Anilao - Nudibranch Capital of The World

100 Stunning Nudibranchs of Anilao - Nudibranch Capital of The World



Have a look at photos from all kinds of nudibranchs and sea slugs you can spot while SCUBA diving around Anilao, The Philippines. The nudibranch capital of the world at its full glory! Learn the basics and identify nudibranchs you have seen in Anilao with this list and underwater photos.



Have you ever been on a dive where a sea turtle or maybe even a manta ray passes by and you are actually more interested in something tiny bright colored on the reef that might be a nudibranch?!

Quite often you see people for a day of fun diving that are interested in those cartoon-like sea slugs, macro diving or 'treasure hunting'. Maybe it comes with more reef dive experience, maybe it comes with getting more underwater photo/video experience, but as microscopic as those sea slugs might be - nudibranchs are awesome in many ways!

Is finding 'new' nudibranchs a challenge you love while scuba diving? The more unique the better? Then Amazingly Awesome Anilao should be on your wish list, it is located right in the Coral Triangle.

Nudi nerds let's go!

Goniobranchus kuniei nudibranch scuba diving anilao

Goniobranchus kuniei



Quick Links



10 Nudibranch Basics to Warm-Up

Nembrotha chamberlaini nudibranch species scuba diving anilao

Nembrotha chamberlaini eating

  1. A nudibranch is a mollusk (soft-bodied invertebrates) without a shell (when adult).
  2. Nudibranch means naked gill, from the Latin words nudus and branchia.
  3. There are about 3000 nudibranch species at shallow-water and a few at deep-water.
  4. Nudibranch are hermaphrodites (male and female reproductive organs).
  5. They lay their eggs in ribbons (flower-like) with protective mucus that take about one week to hatch.
  6. Nudibranchs can live up to one year.
  7. Some nudibranchs can grow larger than 50cm / 20 inch (Hexabranchus sanguineus) while others are smaller than your eyes can see - but I guess you are already aware of this :))
  8. Nudibranch are carnivores; many eat sponges, corals, anemones and other nudibranchs.
  9. The stunning colors come from the food they eat and some can also store some toxins from their prey.
  10. These bright colors and impressive patterns are for camouflage (blend in) and defense (not eatable).


Scientific Names of Nudibranch - Let's Talk latin!

Common names of marine life species are often a lot easier than the scientific names and for sure a lot more fun. Spanish dancer, blue dragon, sea bunny, polka dot and pyjama nudibranch - tell those in a dive briefing and divers get excited!

chromodoris elisabethina nudibranch scuba diving anilao

Chromodoris elisabethina

Polka dot nudibranch is a lot easier than Jorunna funebris and Pyjama nudibranch is easier than Chromodoris elisabethina.

One of the first problems here is that people use different common names for the same species and they were all made up. So a Jorunna funebris is also often called a dotted nudibranch or even black and white nudibranch. Well, as you probably can image there are more black and white nudibranch species and many nudibranchs have dots... So that does not really work.

The second problem is that you can get very creative with common names making it hard to distinguish the species. Patterns of a pyjama and polka dots are not always the same, you could have a pyjama with polka dots...

Therefore the use of scientific names is quite simply the best way to identify nudibranch, they are always the same - but different theories apply. The scientific nudibranch and sea slug names you can find here come from the theory of Gosliner et al. and their reasoning.

Still you need to identify the species correctly and that can be a real challenge as there can be minor differences. But that might just be the best part for some nudi lovers...



Nudibranch and Sea slug Taxonomy - More Latin...

All nudibranchs are sea slugs, but not all sea slugs are nudibranch. This is similar to: All turtles are animals but not animals are turtles.

nudibranch_tree_taxonomy_diveoclock

Euthyneuran consensus tree from recent multi-locus (Jörger et al. 2014) and phylogenomic (Zapata et al. 2014) studies.

In biology animals and plants are categorized by family trees, this is called taxonomy. Within the tree of animals you can find turtles as well as sea slugs at lower levels (classification) but not at the same branch.

Especially when it comes to nudibranch identification it is interesting to know more about taxonomy. It is not easy, because what you call a nudibranch might not even belong to the nudibranch family or a few higher classifications (flatworms for example).

If you start from the trunk you can say they are all Mollusks. Mollusks are soft-bodied invertebrates. From there you can go to Gastropods (all kinds of snails), than to Heterobranchia (sea slugs and sea snails), to Euthyneura (certain anatomy features), to Nudiplura (sea snails and sea slugs without a shell (when adult) to Nudibranchia (specific types of sea slugs without a shell (when adult). This is just to give you an idea. The specifics depends on who's theory you are following and I guess it is maybe not so important for identifying your nudibranchs...

What is important is that there are four species of nudibranchs: Doridaceans, Aeolidaceans, Dendrotaceans and Arminaceans. The two most common species of nudibranchs are dorids and aeolids.

Unless you want to get more into scientific research I guess all you want to know is the 'basics for nudibranch identification', to understand some differences and to save time figuring out what beautiful creature you have seen underwater.

So how to easily identify those four species of nudibranch? Let's start with describing their body structure.



Basics and Anatomy for Nudibranch Identification (in short)

Tambja verconis nudibranch_tree_taxonomy_diveoclock

External anatomy of a Tambja verconis nudibranch (by wadeangeliart)

To identify nudibranchs you can start with the shape of the body, the external anatomy. If you look at the image of the Tambja verconis you can learn some basics for identification.

The horn-like tentacles they have on their head are rhinophores, they are for detecting odor (smell) and they can be retracted when a predator comes around. The pompom on his back is a branchial plume, gills to filter oxygen from the water (breathe). This is typical for dorid nudibranchs.

Some species have more tentacles; some facing forward (oral tentacles), some facing to the side (propodial tentacles). If they have a lot of tentacles or finger-like things on their back they are likely to be cerata. This is typical for aeolid nudibranchs.

The mantle is the overall cover, it can be skirt-like that can blow upwards (like a Marilyn Monroe moment).

Coloring is important, especially the location of the colors and the patterns. Think of recognizing horizontal or vertical stripes, lines around the rhinophores, etc.

Searching those details online nowadays might get you a lot closer to the exact species name, but it is also tricky. Therefore it is always good to check and verify the nudibranch name you found with expert knowledge. Quite likely you will learn a lot more and grow your own nudibranch knowlegde as well, yeah!



The Best Tools for Nudibranch Identification (You Can Use Offline)

When you go on a dive holiday you probably have enough luggage to carry around and check-in already. Save travel weight, save a tree and always have these handy with you on your phone or tablet (no WiFi needed):

You should get the Nudibranch and Sea Slug Identification Identification – Indo-Pacific PDF ebook by Terrence Gosliner, Ángel Valdés and David Behrens. This is one of the marine life identification books you can often find at dive shops and on liveaboards - they are simply the best and luckily now available in PDF. It contains over 2000 nudibranch species!

Also make sure to get this Nudibranch Identification App by Gary Cobb to learn a lot more about nudibranch, species, families and identification. New nudibranchs names and species are added when needed, so it always up-to-date. This App has been very useful to me, highly recommended and works without internet connection.

Gary Cobb is a well-known nudibranch expert and his mobile apps are great resources. In fact he personally helped me with identifying some of the nudibranchs you can see on this page - how awesome!



Nembrotha chamberlaini nudibranch species scuba diving anilao

Maiting pair of Nembrotha chamberlaini

Anilao - Nudibranch Capital of The World

Nicknamed the nudibranch capital of the world, Anilao has a stunning diversity and quantity of nudibranchs and sea slugs. It is one of the SCUBA diving areas where you can spot the most nudibranchs in tropical waters.

It is incredible how many nudibranchs you can spot during a single dive around Anilao (Mabini, Batangas). Often you see different species of nudibranchs in one small area and you rarely only see one of the same species, they seem very 'productive' around here..

To give you an idea of how busy it is in the nudibranch capital of the world I have added some photos below. This is a dive area where dive centers can guarantee that you will see nudibranchs!



chromodoris_willani_group nudibranch
Goniobranchus leopardus nudibranch species scuba diving anilao
Ceratosoma trilobatum nudibranch nudibranch species scuba diving anilao
chromodoris lochi nudibranch species scuba diving anilao
Hypselodoris krakatoa and Nembrotha chamberlaini_nudibranch
Chromodoris annae on top of Doriprismatica atromarginata nudibranch anilao

For sure it looks like the nudibranch capital of the world in Anilao!





Expectation vs reality

The most beautiful nudibranch around Anilao are often of microscopic size... Make sure to get some magnifying lenses for your dive mask .



nudibranch_species_scuba-diving-anilao_philippines_diveoclock
Expectation - nudibranch of 5 cm and bigger (2 inch)
nudibranch_species_scuba-diving-anilao_philippines_diveoclock
Reality - nudibranch smaller than 1 cm (0,4 inch)
tiny nudibranchs in anilao

"Look there's a nudibranch!" (No, I do not wear bunny ears)



100 Nudibranch and Sea Slugs of Anilao

Scroll down and mouse-over or click on the photos to see the nudibranch and sea slug ID's.

Acanthozoon flatworm black white yellow gold dots_nudibranch species anilao

Acanthozoon (flatworm, no nudibranch)

Aplysia oculifera nudibranch anilao

Aplysia oculifera

Ardeadoris egretta nudibranch anilao

Ardeadoris egretta

Ceratosoma gracillimum nudibranch anilao

Ceratosoma gracillimum

Ceratosoma trilobatum nudibranch anilao

Ceratosoma trilobatum

Chelidonura amoena nudibranch_species anilao

Chelidonura amoena

Chelidonura amoena nudibranch_species anilao

Chelidonura amoena

chromodoris annae_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris annae

chromodoris annae nudibranch anilao

Juv. Chromodoris annae

chromodoris colemani_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris colemani

chromodoris dianae_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris dianae

chromodoris dianae_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris dianae

chromodoris_elisabethina_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris elisabethina

chromodoris lochi_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris lochi

chromodoris_magnifica nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris magnifica

chromodoris magnifica_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris strigata

chromodoris_willani_nudibranch anilao

Chromodoris willani

Coriocella nigra black sea slug bumps barbapapa snail nudibranch anilao

Coriocella nigra (sea snail, no nudibranch)

Cratena simba nudibranch anilao

Cratena simba

Cratena simba nudibranch anilao

Cratena simba

Diversidoris crocea nudibranch anilao

Diversidoris crocea

Doriprismatica atromarginata nudibranch anilao

Doriprismatica atromarginata

Doriprismatica atromarginata nudibranch anilao

Doriprismatica atromarginata

Doriprismatica atromarginata nudibranch anilao

Doriprismatica atromarginata

Doriprismatica atromarginata nudibranch anilao

Doriprismatica atromarginata

Elysia nigropunctata nudibranch anilao

Elysia nigropunctata

Flabellina exoptata_nudibranch anilao

Flabellina exoptata

Flabellina exoptata_nudibranch anilao

Flabellina exoptata

Flabellina lotos nudibranch anilao

Flabellina lotos

Flabellina lotos nudibranch anilao

Flabellina lotos

Flabellina lotos nudibranch anilao

Flabellina lotos

Flabellina lotos nudibranch anilao

Flabellina lotos

Flabellina riwo nudibranch anilao

Flabellina riwo

Glossodoris rufomarginata nudibranch anilao

Glossodoris rufomarginata

Goniobranchus albonares nudibranch

Goniobranchus albonares

Goniobranchus fidelis nudibranch

Goniobranchus fidelis

Goniobranchus geometricus nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus geometricus

Goniobranchus hintuanensis nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus hintuanensis

Goniobranchus hintuanensis nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus hintuanensis

Juv Goniobranchus nudibranch anilao

Juv. Goniobranchus (probably hintuanensis)

Goniobranchus kuniei nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus kuniei

Goniobranchus leopardus nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus leopardus

Goniobranchus reticulatus nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus reticulatus

Goniobranchus verrieri nudibranch anilao

Goniobranchus verrieri

Hypselodoris apolegma nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris apolegma

Hypselodoris bollandi nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris bollandi

Hypselodoris bullockii nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris bullockii

Hypselodoris decorata nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris decorata

Hypselodoris decorata nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris decorata

Hypselodoris krakatoa nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris krakatoa

Hypselodoris purpureomaculosa nudibranch anilao

Hypselodoris purpureomaculosa

Jorunna funebris nudibranch anilao

Jorunna funebris

Halgerda batangas nudibranch anilao

Halgerda batangas

Nembrotha chamberlaini nudibranch anilao

Nembrotha chamberlaini

Nembrotha kubaryana nudibranch anilao

Nembrotha kubaryana

Nembrotha lineolata nudibranch anilao

Nembrotha lineolata

Nembrotha milleri nudibranch anilao

Nembrotha milleri

Philinopsis sp. nudibranch anilao

Philinopsis sp.

Phyllidia variocosa nudibranch anilao

Phyllidia coelestis

Phyllidia elegans_nudibranch anilao

Phyllidia elegans

Phyllidia_ocellata nudibranch anilao

Phyllidia ocellata

Phyllidia pustolosa_nudibranch anilao

Phyllidia pustolosa

Phyllidiella pustulosa nudibranch anilao

Phyllidiella pustulosa

Phyllidiella pustulosa nudibranch anilao

Phyllidiella pustulosa

Phyllidia Rudmani nudibranch anilao

Phyllidiella Rudmani

Phyllidia fissuratus nudibranch anilao

Phyllidiopsis fissuratus

Pleurobranchus forskalii nudibranch anilao

Pleurobranchus forskalii

Phyllodesmium briareum nudibranch anilao

Phyllodesmium briareum

Phyllodesmium parangatum nudibranch anilao

Phyllodesmium briareum

Phyllodesmium opalescens nudibranch anilao

Phyllodesmium opalescens

Pseudoceros bifurcus blue flatworm yellow white line nudibranch anilao

Pseudoceros bifurcus (flatworm, no nudibranch)

Pseudoceros lindae Linda's flatworm nudibranch anilao

Pseudoceros lindae (flatworm, no nudibranch)

Pseudoceros sapphirinus black blue flatworm_nudibranch_species

Pseudoceros sapphirinus (flatworm, no nudibranch)

Pseudoceros Scintillatus_flatworm black white dots yellow line nudibranch_species

Pseudoceros Scintillatus (flatworm, no nudibranch)

Pseudoceros Scintillatus_flatworm black white dots yellow line nudibranch_species

Pseudoceros Scintillatus (flatworm, no nudibranch)

Pseudoceros Scintillatus_flatworm black white dots yellow line nudibranch_species

Pseudoceros Scintillatus (flatworm, no nudibranch)

reticulidia fungia_nudibranch_species anilao

Reticulidia fungia

Samla bicolor nudibranch anilao

Samla bicolor

Tergipes sp. nudibranch anilao

Tergipes sp.

Tergipes sp. nudibranch anilao

Tergipes sp.

Thuridilla gracilis nudibranch anilao

Thuridilla gracilis

Thuridilla undula nudibranch anilao

Thuridilla undula

Thuridilla albopustulosa nudibranch anilao

Thuridilla albopustulosa

Volvatella shell_nudibranch

Volvatella

Volvatella nudibranch

Volvatella



Nudibranch eggs

Hexabranchus sanguineus egg mass

Hexabranchus sanguineus egg mass

nudibranch eggs

Chromodiris egg mass?

nudibranch eggs

Slug eggs mass?

sea slug eggs

Slug eggs mass?



Mimic Nudibranchs

Mimic Nudibranchs - Not the real names, but I hope to make you smile. Mimicry is all around.

Mimic Chromodoris

Mimic Chromodoris

Mimic Chromodoris

Mimic Chromodoris

Mimic Phyllodesmium

Mimic Phyllodesmium

Mimic Glossodoris

Mimic Glossodoris

yellow_sea_cucumber Colochrius robostus

Mimic Aegires

Mimic Reticulidia nudibranch

Mimic Reticulidia



nudibranch

Mission 100 different nudibranchs in Anilao with Bentrina Dive Resort Anilao

If you managed to read or scroll all the way to this point I guess you can call yourself a nudi nerd too! Or were you really counting to see if there are really 100 nudibranch on this page? Well, nerd for sure. :)

Make sure to read the main article about Diving around Anilao as well.

If you have anything to add or just want to talk about nudis just get in touch and let's share the fun!

If you like this post, hit that like button on our Facebook page and stay tuned for more!
Marlies Wolters
Founder of Dive o'clock "It's dive o'clock somewhere!"
Become a Dive Professional






diveoclock nudibranchs anilao






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