Today Hai and Lottie were supposed to show us where the Blacktip Reef Sharks hang out at the south end of Kawaihae Harbor, but roaring offshore winds made us divert to Plan B. We went east to Kawaihae’s commercial docks, tucked away from the wind. There among the dock’s pilings we identified six species of nudibranch, breaking my short-lived personal record of five, set only three days ago.
After Marla and I got home I did a little web crawling and found that many nudibranch species are fond of vertical surfaces like those provided by Kawaihae’s pilings and pylons*. Who’d have thought.
These handsome, if not colorful, White Margin Nudibranchs are apparently quite common in Hawaii, but they were a first for me. Hoover writes that they are often found in small groups. We saw several pairs and a triple today.
This inch and a half long Gloomy Nudibranch was the only nudi we saw that measured over an inch. The species can reach three inches.
Here’s another Painted Nudibranch. Quite a contrast to the one shown in the last post. This species ranges all the way to the Mediterranean, which it apparently reached via the Suez Canal.
Another Trembling Nudibranch. Look at that supple body—the way it’s folded itself across the thin, stiff (at least by nudibranch standards) obstacle that it’s crawling over. This species is the only endemic in this post.
The White Bump Nudibranch looks quite a bit like the Trembling, at least to me. Not so much to Marla, who, unlike me, distinguished them instantly in the field. The colors of the gills and rhinophores—deep blue in the Trembling; pale grey and brown in the White Bump—are the main identifiers for me. Marla said it was more of a Gestalt thing for her. The body color difference so apparent in these flash photos was not nearly so apparent to me in the rather dim light around the pilings.
This was the highlight of the outing for me. It’s a member of the genus Caloria; maybe an un-named species or maybe indica. There’s a lot of confusion on the web regarding this. In either case, gorgeous but tiny and surprisingly hard to spot. We saw several—mostly spotted by Hai. (I don’t know what that little round thing below the nudi is, but I suspect it’s something planted by ancient aliens. Click and take a close look and I’m sure you’ll agree.)
*Actually, they’re all pilings. I’m really misusing the term pylon here, but we** use it anyway to refer to the piling supporting the military platforms. Actually, we’re misusing piling as well. A pile is a support column, while a piling is a structure composed of piles. Piling feels better somehow, maybe because it’s doesn’t sound like a hemorrhoid.
**By “we” I mostly mean Jeff and me.