Nature is our wonderful environment, in which we are lucky to live. It is full of countless acts of creativity, secrets, mysteries, miracles, and lessons. One of the most fascinating and mysterious creatures is the nudibranch, which is not just some little creature in the ocean.
Despite their small size and soft bodies, these marine species are among the most captivating sea animals thanks to their unusual beauty. There are approximately 3,000 species of nudibranchs described worldwide in cold and tropical regions.
The name nudibranch comes from the Latin word ‘nudus, which means ‘naked, and the Greek word ‘brankhia’ which means ‘gills’. This is because adult nudibranchs lack a protective shell, leaving their breathing apparatus exposed. Nudibranchs are sea slugs that belong to the gastropod class of the Mollusca phylum.
Scientists are very interested in nudibranch studies as they are closely impacted in terms of their abundance and diversity due to environmental changes. A lot of studies have been published to date about their ecology, biodiversity, bioactive metabolites, and abundance.
Nudibranch diversity and abundance serve as a barometer for the health of the marine ecosystem. The fact that nudibranchs depend on a diversity of marine creatures for sustenance makes them great indicator species.
Some species can live off of just their heads, and they occasionally throw away their bodies so they can create new ones later. It is believed that studying them could provide a key to enabling human organ regeneration.
Some nudibranch species called “solar-powred ” can generate solar energy by raising aquatic one-cell organisms, which are a plentiful source of food for them. These microalgae’s chloroplasts are ingested by nudibranchs, which then perform photosynthesis. For several months, the built energy is obtained and maintained by Nudibranchs thanks to the manufactured nutrients. Indeed,’solar-powered’ nudibranchs can withstand food shortages of weeks or even months thanks to metabolites produced by the symbionts.