Melibe engeli Risbec, 1937

At times, this small Melibe can be found relatively easily at Kwajalein Atoll, where it lives in clumps of Halimeda algae from sandy lagoon reefs. In some areas, as many as 60 individuals have been observed in an hour's searching. At other times, it seems almost completely absent from the same areas. Although very difficult to spot in the algae, if you put your fingers into the algae clumps and shake it a bit, Melibe tends to float off and start swimming with its upside-down, lateral bending swimming behavior. Specimens range up to about 30mm in length. They tend to be a bit fragile, sometimes losing their dorsal paddles if seriously disturbed. Melibe feeds with a hood fringed with tentacles around the mouth as shown at the right side of the photo below. It expands out this hood kind of like a throw-net, closing it off and squeezing the water it surrounds out through the interlaced fringe, capturing any small crustaceans or other food items in the tentacles, from where they are sent down the gullet.

Closeup of the rhinophore.

Created 20 January 2007
Updated 13 April 2014

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