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Thursday, May 20, 2010

Slugfest In The Philippines

The California Academy of Science's Terry Gosliner invites us to tag along as he and other mollusca-philes (I made that up) dive in search of new and exciting species of nudibranch.

Gosliner's post has it all: unbridled excitement at night diving, electric-blue slug sex under the lights, and the thrill of victory. Mama, let your boys (and girls) grow up to be biologists:

Thirty minutes into the dive, our dive guide Alexis swam over with a plastic box he uses to collect special animals he finds. Inside was a three-inch specimen of Kalinga. Kalinga is a member of a group of nudibranchs that feed on tiny colonial animals called bryozoans. By day it is buried in the sand and by night it comes out and feeds on small organisms living in the sand. You can watch its mouth parts being extended, and it is feeding on something, but we still don’t know what. Each observation opens up new questions. The work is never done. That is biological job security.
There's also a hopeful passage on a broader topic in Gosliner's first post from his weeklong trip to Anilao in the Philippines.

Not only that, it is one of the few places in the western Pacific where you can say that the reefs are in better shape now than they used to be. That is in large measure due to concerted conservation efforts by heroic community leaders and recognition that having abundant marine life attracts the scuba divers who flock here each spring and infuse the local economy.

I vividly remember the underwater dynamite blast that almost blew out my eardrums on my first trip here, and seeing twitching, dying fish next to me....

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