Phyllodesmium rudmani Burghardt & Gosliner, 2006

This spectacularly cryptic nudibranch feeds on Xenia soft corals, and the nudibranch's cerata are tipped with structures that look startlingly like closed up Xenia polyps. The only way to be sure it is a nudibranch and not a coral is to see the pair of close set, whitish, mostly smooth rhinophores sticking up between the polyp-like cerata near the right side of the animal in the first photo below. This individual was found drifting along like a tumbleweed in a strong current along the sandy slope at Red Palm. At least 60mm.

The specimen below was found at Secret Garden. I was rather pleased with myself to have spotted this one on my own. My feeling of accomplishment was somewhat short lived, however, when a few days later at Kitchen Rock, dive guide Peri showed me another that I failed to recognize, even after he pointed right at it.

Created 14 June 2015
Updated 28 March 2017

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