|KAUST beach at sunset.|
|Little creature photography studio; Chromodoris charlottae pictured.|
To the concerned parents, allow me to apologize for romanticizing such destructive behavior; one should never remove marine life for one's own personal pleasure. Fellow divers and nature enthusiasts will emphatically agree; don't touch wildlife! If you don't know what it is, you might kill yourself, or the organism - and that's no fun for anyone. Of course, I'm a marine biologist, I had told myself. I know what these creatures are, and gosh darnit, if it might be a new species, who better to investigate than me? (Aside from reputable, published sea slug biologists, or opisthobranchologists, as their business cards might say. But this logic does not work with the infatuated.) When I finished my thesis and left Saudi Arabia, the bad habit came with me to subsequent seaside dwellings around the world. In Malta, Costa Rica, and Seattle I told myself that I was allowed to take them home because I lived so close to the sea, and I'd let them go. Just allow me some detailed photographs, and I'll only pickle the critter if it can't be identified, right?
|Hotel ashtray as makeshift studio for Hypselodoris agassizii, from a tide pool in Montezuma, Costa Rica, 2011.|
|Thuridilla hopei, Malta, 2011.|
|Unidentified (suborder Dendronotina), KSA, 2012.|
|Chelidonura livida use sensitive oral bristles to track prey!|
|Undescr. Dermatobranchus sp., KSA, 2012.|
I invite the rest of you to the hobby of slugwatching. Here is your Slugwatching 101. You can find these creatures as easily as I have, if you want to!
- When diving/snorkeling, adjust your view to the world of the tiny creature; remember a hole you can't even fit your finger into can be an apartment complex to a slug.
- Get yourself an underwater camera so you can photograph what you find; most of these creatures are so fragile they will fragment upon contact, so don't repeat my mistakes by collecting them!
- Identify your photos later using wonderful resources on the internet (http://www.seaslugforum.net), or dozens of immensely useful wildlife identification guides (e.g. Nathalie Yonow's Sea Slugs of the Red Sea, 2008, 304 p.).
|Bulla ampulla - with isopod sidekick in the water above its eyes!|
|Glossodoris pallida mating on the bottom of an overturned rock.|
|A tiny unidentified Phyllidiid nudibranch (wart slug) cruises the algal turf.|