LION’S MANE NUDIBRANCH (Melibe leonina) by Autopsea (via: JUNK Tumblog)
The “hooded nudibranch” or the “lion’s mane nudibranch”, is a species of predatory sea slug, with a large “hooded mouth” that it extends out and down like a net to catch its prey. When the ventral surface of the hood contacts a small animal, the hood rapidly closes and the fringing tentacles overlap, holding in the prey then forcing the whole animal into the mouth.
Prey include amphipods, copepods, mysids, other small crustaceans, small mollusks, small jellyfish and ctenophores, larvae of other invertebrates and in some cases small fish.
This nudibranch is up to 102 mm/4” long, 25 mm/1” wide, and 51 mm/2” across the expanded oral hood.
This species occurs on the west coast of North America, from Alaska to Baja California and is found on eel grass and other seaweeds near low tide and below, and in kelp forest in deeper water.
The body of this nudibranch is translucent. It is usually colorless to pale yellow or green, with opaque brown hepatic diverticula. It has a large expandable oral hood, fringed with sensory tentacles, which it opens and throws forward in order to catch food. A single pair of rhinophores (horns) on the hood are rounded and earlike. 4-6 pairs of flat paddle shaped cerata run along its dorsum in two rows.
Melibe leonina exudes a sweet fruity aroma when it is removed from the water, or when numerous individuals are kept together in captivity.
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Melibe leonina by Autopsea (via: JUNK Tumblog)