Seasearch divers from Yorkshire recently visited Filey Brigg and took photographs of some of the incredibly exotic and diverse marine life found just a few hundred metres from Filey’s beach. On one dive alone they recorded 56 species, including 7 species of seaslug. The word ‘seaslug’ implies the kind of slimy animal found in gardens but simply doesn’t do justice to the colourful beauty and exoticism of these tiny animals. They are often difficult to spot, but tend to eat specific animals, such as certain types of seamats or bryozoans, so if you can find their food, a seaslug that eats that food can often be found nearby. The above photograph is of a seaslug called Cuthona caerulea which is snacking off its favourite hydroid food on Filey Brigg. seaslugs or Nudibranchs, as they are known by scientists are usually short lived and can have several generations each year.
Nudibranchs have always attracted a considerable following. If you want a riveting bedtime read go to A monograph of the British nudibranchiate Mollusca (1845) . The authors of which were Joshua Alder, Albany Hancock and Sir Charles Eliot. Albany Hancock was one half of the Hancock Brothers of Newcastle upon Tyne. His brother John is known as the ‘father of modern taxidermy’ .
Such publications fuelled the Victorian passion for collecting marine life and hordes of ‘would be naturalists’ ripped up British seashores or nearby rocky seabeds with their ‘naturalists dredges’. The wonderful underwater photographs of Seasearch Divers are a much better way of examining these wonderfully colourful animals and their natural habitats.
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