And just like Paris Hilton they are a bit unusual in what they like in a mate. Nudibranch’s are simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning they have both male and female sexual organs. However nudibranch’s can’t self-fertilise. They need another nudibranch to fertilise their eggs. Before you read on, important to know that the next few paragraphs will delve into the sex lives of nudibranchs. Please note – Nudibranchs wield their sexual organs much like a medieval warrior charging into the enemy swinging an axe. You have been warned….
The mating act itself, as the penis is shaped like a syringe, involves the penis being stabbed into the female genitalia. Then to keep it in place the penis has hooks and spines. (Cue the Marvin Gaye music ).
There is only one word in the english language that sums up this mating process – and that word is ouch.
One type of nudibranch, “Chromodoris reticulate”, would be a proud member of our consumer society. It has developed a disposable penis, which after mating it detaches and starts growing another, ready for the next encounter. Should this be considered littering?
But life for the nudibranch is not all sex (although a fair bit of it is as they mate up to three times a day). They also have to eat. And eat they do but strictly no vegetables as any proud parent introducing broccoli to their child can appreciate. All nudibranchs are carnivores, eating other animals such as sponges, blue bottles and also their own kind. Food sources that contain poisonous capsules, such as nematocysts, are used to enhance the nudibranch’s defences. The capsules pass through the gut intact and are pushed out to the skin, ready to fire a poisonous barbed thread into any would-be attacker. Another example is a recent study from Queensland which showed that nudibranch’s digest toxins from the sponges they eat that pass harmlessly through their digestive system and are pushed to the slugs extremities, ready to deter any would be predators.
So what is it with all the colors? For reference, let’s have a look at how Bart Simpson deals with a brightly colored clown. That’s right – not well. Nudibranch’s have a similiar approach. Their colorful wardrobe serves as a warning to predators that they are poisonous and/or not that tasty.
Many nudibranchs take on the colour comes from their food sources. This means they inherit the warnings that the color represents in what they have eaten.