📷: A rainbow nudibranch (Dendronotus iris) laying eggs in Monterey, spotted by Michelle Manson.
Nudibranchs grow and reproduce quickly, so they don’t have time to search the seas for a slug soulmate. Instead, they’re hermaphroditic—they have both male and female sexual organs—so meetings between two or more can be a mutual mating session.
A nudibranch’s reproductive organs are all on their right side, a result of their bodies “unwinding” from their ancestral snail form. Reproducing means lining up rhinophores to gills in a molluscan cuddle puddle before each nudibranch lays a squiggly string of slug eggs.
After about a week, the baby nudis—called veligers—hatch and drift in the currents, feasting on plankton for several weeks before settling down to morph into adults.
📷: Two mating white dendronotus nudibranchs (Dendronotus albus) perch precariously on a blade of eelgrass. Found by Phil Lemley.
📷: While most nudibranch eggs range in color from white to pale yellow, the eggs of a spanish shawl nudibranch (Flabellina iodinea) are a brilliant pink! Spotted by JR Sosky.