Between Friday 15 – Monday 18 March 2019 people all across Port Phillip Bay, Westernport Bay and surrounds submitted their photos of nudibranchs as part of the third Melbourne Sea Slug Census.
This time was no exception, and we had some terrific entries. There were some returning champions as well as first-time entrants, and while many people said they had a harder time finding sea slugs this weekend than usual, we still have some new additions to our Census records for Victoria. We’re also starting to get spoilt for choice when it comes to great images to use in educational materials such as ID charts, and a booklet that is in the pipeline.
We’re pleased to let you know the winners of the third Melbourne Sea Slug Census photo competition!
Best Photo: Nick Shaw (Phyllodesmium macphersonae, Pt Lonsdale)
- The people’s choice award in a blind vote held at the VNPA office, and it’s not hard to see why. We love how vibrant this aolid nudibranch is against the dark background, and this photo also shows off its distinguishing features and body shape.
Photo: Nick Shaw
Best Ceratosoma brevicaudatum: Roy Joyce (Blairgowrie)
- 12 different groups of nudi hunters found this species at least once, making it the most sighted in the March 2019 Census, so we figured it deserved its own category!
- This photo beautifully showcases the creature features of this common dorid nudibranch, also known as the Short-tail Ceratosoma, including the eponymous red ‘tail’ that acts as a focus for predators (who get a mouthful of nasty chemicals if they take a bite). VNPA staff loved the clarity of the animal against its setting. It’s a great example of ‘best practice’ in photographing for identification purposes!
- Honourable mention to Michael Gibbs for his brilliant overhead photo of a C. ceratosoma at Rye pier, the colours in this shot were spectacular.
Photo: Roy Joyce
Most interesting species: Chris Hurwood (photo below) and Rebecca Lloyd (Dermatobranchus rubidus, Blairgowrie)
- Professor Steve Smith (founder, SSC) was most excited to see this species pop up in another Census, as it has only ever been recorded as part of the SSC once before.
- We love the delicate shapes and colours of this nudibranch, which belongs to the ‘mixed-bag’ suborder Arminina (notable cousins being Madrella and Janolus species).
Photo: Chris Hurwood
Best group photo: Nick Shaw (Verconia haliclona, Blairgowrie)
- Nick certainly got the most bang for his buck with this shot of at least a dozen tiny V. haliclona feasting on a sponge.
- Honourable mention to Chris Hurwood for his close-up shot of a ribbon egg casing showing what he noted as “thousands of nudis ready for next census”.
Photo: Nick Shaw
Multi-species special: Chris Hurwood (Verconia verconis and Verconia haliclona, Portsea)
- This is a fantastic contrast between the cryptic but relatively large V. verconis and the smaller, brighter V. haliclona, seen just sneaking into frame at the top of the photo. A great find.
Photo: Chris Hurwood
Super sleuth award: Rebecca Lloyd (Doto pita, Blairgowrie)
- Rebecca estimated this tiny Doto to be about 3mm long, and given its near-perfect camouflage with its surroundings this is a very impressive find!
- Rebecca also takes out honourable mention in this category with her shot of an orange Rostanga sp, also barely visible against the background of the sponge she found it on.
Thanks again to everyone who sent in photos, and anyone else who kept an eye out for slugs whilst they were out and about experiencing our wonderful marine environment.
Photo: Rebecca Lloyd
Our next Melbourne Sea Slug Census will be held between Friday 7 June to Monday 10 June 2019. While the weather may be chilly the tides are looking good, so if you’re planning to brave the cold for a coastal adventure, we’d love to see any sea slugs you find.