Closeup of the Oral Hoodimage credit: Dominique Horst, seaslugforum.net
Habitat: Mediterranean and east Atlantic coast from Portugal to the Gulf of Guinea
Status: Not evaluated
What looks like something out of a horror or science fiction movie is actually nothing more than a nudibranch! Most of the nudis I’ve been featuring are “typical” in that they are brightly colored and slug-like. Though this one, I think, is one of the more stranger creatures that I’ve written about so far. Meet Tethys fimbria!
That large, pancake like part you see in the photos is the creature’s oral hood which it uses like a net to sweep the sand in search of tiny crustaceans that it likes to feed on. Most nudibranchs use their sense of smell as their primary means of locating food but Tethys fimbria relies on touch instead. In the closeup of the hood you can see the sensitive papillae around the edge which do the most work by sifting through the sand.
Thanks to Michael Lisieski for sending me the info on this amazing creature!