A pretty little nudibranch has been found by a rock-pooling guide in Falmouth in Cornwall, UK. The temperate waters around the Cornish coast are naturally rich in invertebrates but this rare find, Babakina anadoni, is normally native to the warmer waters of Spain, Portugal, France, and even Brazil and the Caribbean on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. The tiny 2cm long, rainbow-colored sea slug is only the second to be sighted in British waters with the first being spotted off the Isles of Scilly, the most southerly point in Britain, in 2022. The latest find was spotted by The Rock Pool Project volunteer Vicky Barlow.
“When you have been rock pooling as much as I have been in the last year, you start to get an eye for which rocks are most likely to have something interesting underneath. The last rock I picked up was exactly one of these. It was quite a large, heavy rock, covered in various seaweeds, and once lifted something extremely bright and unusual caught my eye. Having been reading up on nudibranchs a lot recently I knew exactly what the colourful blob in front of me was! The extremely rare Rainbow Sea Slug! Once delicately placed in a pot to view, the beautiful animal unfurled and revealed itself in full technicolor.”
Quite the personality!
“A few fellow nudibranch enthusiasts from our community soon rushed over and we all watched the creature navigate the pot in complete awe. Like most nudibranchs it had quite the personality, rearing up to get a better look at its surroundings, and using its tentacle-like ‘cerata’ along its back to make itself appear bigger if one of our hands got too close.”
“?It is absolutely amazing what you can find on our rocky shores, and today was a perfect example of the incredible wildlife we have on our doorstep here in Cornwall. I have recently joined our team of safari guides and to have found this beautiful animal on only the second week of running them hopefully bodes well for future discoveries!”
Babakina anadoni was first described in 1979 and is named in honor of Emilio Anadón Frutos (1917-1997) who was a professor of zoology and marine biology at the University of Oviedo, Spain. It is believed to prey on hydroids and has a planktonic larval phase, hence its wide dispersal across both sides of the Atlantic.