RAINBOW NUDIBRANCH
Dendronotus iris

Habitat: Rainbow nudibranchs typically are found crawling on sand and mud bottoms.

Average adult size: Among the largest nudibranchs; adults can grow to be 1 foot long.

Natural history: Rainbow nudibranchs feed on the tentacles of the tube anemone, Pachycerianthus fimbriatus. They creep up the anemone's tube and dive in to bite off the tips of the tube anemone's tentacles. The tube anemone is not killed and its tentacles grow back, much like your lawn after a good mowing. Adults can escape predators, like the Sunflower star, by "swimming" away with back and forth gyrations. The rainbow nudibranch lays eggs in long, white strings around the base of the tube anemones on which it feeds. Each capsule contains 50 or more eggs that hatch out after 10 to 20 days.

Range: From Aleutian Islands, Alaska south to Los Coronados Islands, Mexico.


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