Neon Sea Slug
|NEON SEA SLUG (Nembrotha kubaryana)
Also known as Nudibranchs, Neon Sea Slugs come in a variety of colors, some proclaiming their toxicity with sharp contrast to their backgrounds, others camouflaged for protections. The species Nembrotha kubaryana grazes on coral, as well as sea squirts, jellyfish and more. Some of its food is toxic, but Nembrotha doesn’t mind. In fact, it eats its fill, then uses their toxic stingers and cells in its own defense. Its bright coloration is a warning to predators that more than its looks are shocking – if anyone dares take a bite, it will get a mouthful of stinging, toxic flesh.
Nembrotha can’t see very well – its tiny eyes are good for discerning only light and dark, but its antennae-like rhinophores are excellent at sensing prey. It wears its’ gills like a colourful, feathery backpack.
Neon Sea Slugs are both male and female, so finding a mate is easy. They can lay thousands or millions of eggs at one time, strung together in ribbons, clusters or strings. Once hatched the tiny larvae start eating the same food they will as adults, nibbling away at sea anemones and coral until full grown at about 2.4 inches (6 cm) long.
Nembrotha kubaryana can be found in the Indo-Pacific Ocean. They have a large range, but their habitat is coral reefs that are increasingly in danger of disintegration due to pollution and changing water chemistry. Reefs grow extremely slowly, so once destroyed this habitat will not easily return. For this reason, Nembrotha is considered a Near Threatened species, meaning it is in some danger of significant reduction in numbers due to habitat destruction.