Snakey bornella feeding on hydoids

Date September 29, 2011

A Snakey bornella (Bornella anguilla) chows down on some hydroids, a plant-like organism related to jellyfish. Though plant-like, hydroids are actually carnivorous animals. Each nudibranch species usually specializes in one or few species of hydoid.

Though hydoids are venomous, this doesn’t bother the nudibranch. It does not digest the nematocysts (stinging cells); instead, it uses them to defend itself by passing them from its gut to the surface of its skin – making it an unfavorable treat for most other reef predators!

What’s also interesting is that the nudibranch appears to to get “stung” by the hydoid, when it jerks subtlety but abruptly, when it first touches the hydoid. Perhaps its something like us eating chilli! Spicy but shiok! I also like the way it “clips” the hydoid off and grasps it in its mouth.

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