Nudibranchs are found in tropical reef systems and come in different colors, sizes and shapes, generally oblong. These weird but adorable critters are actually sea slugs possessing hermaphroditic and psychedelic traits, literally.
The leopard chromodoris, for example, has a surface resembling the skin of a leopard, giving it its name. It feeds on sponges which makes is toxic. A yellow-tipped phyllodesmium is an aeolid that feeds on hydroids which are related to jellyfish. Some can steal their prey's stinging cells which they use for their own protection. A solar-powered phyllodesmium has tiny brown patches used for, as its name suggests, harnessing solar power to produce energy for itself.
Currently, there are 2,300 species of nudibranch found underwater. Lately, a diver and a team of film-makers at Kapalai, a sandbar off the coast of Sabah in Eastern Malaysian Borneo discovered a new species that has an eye candy of colors and, what makes it more attractive, a set of two heads.
This neon sea slug which has two heads also has two sex organs - both male and female. Like the normal one-headed sea slug, it was found to be a hermaphrodite. With its length measuring about 25 mm, the newly-discovered neon sea slug belongs to the specie nembrotha kubaryana, can grow up to 120 mm long. The two-headed hermaphrodite radiates with a bright orange and neon green coloring which is also a warning signal of its toxicity. The sea slugs can remove the chemical compounds from sea squirts and keep them for themselves, ready for excreting the chemicals as slimy mucus in the presence of a predator.
The team of divers was actually filming an online series called Borneo from Below when they made this discovery of not merely eccentric, otherworldly sea slug. Divemaster Nash Baiti found this groovy gastropod while on location at Kapalai with Scubazoo film-making company presenter Aaron "Bertie" Gekoski and director Will Foster-Grundy.
According to Gekoski, they were a bit skeptic at first of finding a two-headed slug, but within only about two minutes of being underwater, Baiti quickly found it. Gekoski said he spent so long taking probably 300 photographs of the rare neon sea slug.
The Scubazoo team worked with marine biologist and nudibranch expert Clay Bryce, who, in the total 10,000 hours he spent studying the gastropods, has never seen a two-headed water creature, said this might have been due to a birth defect or pollution.