The Sea Slug, the Nudibranch, the Melibe Colemani

The word "Melibe" represents a genus of sea slugs and nudibranchs. Most nudibranchs are carnivores that prey on slow-moving animals. However, the Melibe is an active predator which has the ability to trap fast-moving and free-swimming animals using its extendable oral hood.


The Melibe Colemani has two commonly used nicknames, namely, the Ghost Nudibranch, or the Holy Grail of Nudibranchs. These names clearly reflect how difficult it is to be spotted. Because of its almost translucent body, it can easily be mistaken as a pile of dirt or algae. In fact, its body is so translucent that upon a closer look, you may be able to see its internal organs.


The Melibe Colemani was named after the person who discovered it at or around the year 2008, Neville Coleman (1938-2012). It has since been spotted in the waters of several countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. It is said that one location with a high chance of spotting the Melibe Colemani is in the waters off an island called Romblon in the Philippines.


Although the Melibe Colemani looks like a pile of roots, they are in fact not roots, but believed to be a network of digestive glans with tubes that are all connected together. It may also look like a skeleton. Because of its design, you will definitely need to stare at it for a long while in order to slowly make out its shape, starting from its oral hood, its eyes, head, then body.


Because of the difficulty to observe the Melibe Colemani, the easiest way to observe it is via scuba diving. This will allow you to get to greater depths, and to stay underwater long enough to search for and spend time appreciating it. It is however, a very fragile creature, so it is strongly advised that scuba divers do not disturb the water close to the Melibe Colemani. Too strong a current caused by physical movements may easily sweep the poor Nudibranch away from its perch. Especially for underwater macro photographers who may need to get close to achieve that money shot, please do care about the well being of the subject as well.


You can check out this video by Teresa Bowden.



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