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Psychedelic sea slugs outshine their garden cousins

2010-03-22 09:25 BJT

These spectacular shapes and kaleidoscopic colours couldn't be further from the dull slime of the humble garden slug.

But these stunning creatures are actually a distant cousin, living in a rather more exotic location.

Purple Glory: The Hypselodoris apolegma is a rich pinkish purple with a white border to the mantle
Purple Glory: The Hypselodoris apolegma is a rich pinkish purple with 
a white border to the mantle

The sea slugs, called nudibranchs, spend their days at the bottom of the ocean. While nudibranchs are sea slugs not all sea slugs are nudibranchs.

They are hermaphrodites like their garden cousins, with a set of reproductive organs for both sexes. However, they can rarely fertilise themselves.

Their bright colours and intricate designs serve to ward off predators as well as providing an eye-catching display for curious divers.

Nudibranchs, whose name means 'naked gills', grow from just one-inch-long up to 24 inches and live in salt water across the globe.