Nudibranchs in the Maldives
Many divers specifically dive to photograph Nudibranchs in the Maldives. Pronounced Nude-e-Brank, which means naked gill, nudibranchs are gastropod molluscs a soft bodied animal, having a characteristic gill shape. Usually called sea slugs they can vary in look greatly.
Nudibranchs in the Maldives can be very different but usually they grow to between 4 and 10 cm long. They have tentacles on their heads known as rhinophores, these look like antennae, they are used to detect taste, touch and smell. Their eyes are about a quarter of a millimetre in diameter, and set into their bodies they only deal with light and dark. Nudibranchs breathe either through their skin or through the use the tuft of secondary gills many species carry on the tail end of their back. These secondary gills, are exposed and take the form of the branchus which sprouts from the dorsal region. Larger forms of nudibranchs can grow as long as 60 cm in length and weigh as much as 3 pounds (1.5kg). There are many types of these sea slugs in the Maldives. Usually a nudibranch will have an oblong, soft and squashy body and elaborate colours. There are however many that have flattened bodies and are the same dull grey or brown colour as their surrounding habitat. Nudibranchs in the Maldives spend most of their time eating and they have very specific food sources.
While there is always much made about seeing whale sharks and manta rays, the nudibranchs in the Maldives has lots of fans. These know that every now and then you may be lucky enough to spot one that you have never seen before and in fact may never see again. Nudibranchs in the Maldives come in almost every colour you can imagine. Because they are so colourful the photographs produced of these amazing little creatures are incredible. To get really good photos make sure the rhinophores are in focus. If the gills have retracted, wait until the gills come out. Get as close and you can so you fill the frame of your shot. Position the lights for front and side lighting, as different nudibranchs photograph better in different lighting conditions. A nudibranch with gills and rhinophores in focus is usually considered a good shot.
Whatever you do, don’t harm a nudibranchs in the Maldives to allow you to get a better photo, and never move them from their environment. Of course once you have taken your great photographs you will want to identify the nudibranchs in the Maldives that you managed to find. There are plenty of online sites and books to help you to do this.