BAUE Divers Discover New Nudibranch Species

By Robert Lee

In 2008, divers as part of the ongoing BAUE Nudibranch Project disovered and photographed an unidentified nudibranch approximately 5mm in length. The slug was discovered at about 130' depth at Point Lobos State Reserve, in Carmel CA. After consulting with several nudibranch researchers who could also not make an identification, we set out to further document and possibly collect a specimen for further study.

A collection permit was obtained from the state, and a plan was put in place, but almost a year went by without seeing the slug again. Most of the Nudibranch Project dives are conducted on permanently defined survey transects shallow reef structure which has a markedly different substrate and inhabitants from the slightly deeper reef not too far way, so our followup dives searching for the critter were unsuccessful for the next year.

Finally, in May of 2009, our efforts paid off and we once again found the mystery nudibranch at roughly the same location on the reef. This time, we found a multitude of subjects and were able to take numerous in situ photographs before collecting 2 specimens for further study.
We handed the slugs off to researchers Gary MacDonald who took some additional photographs and did the preservation, and finally to Terry Gosliner of the California Academy of Sciences who did the dissection and final description, which appears in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, of our new species:
Okenia felis.

The full description is available for download here.

BAUE Divers: Allison Lee, Robert Lee, John Heimann, Clinton Bauder
Researchers: Gary MacDonald, Terry Gosliner

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