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Why this South Australian sea slug excited Redmap scientists

Redmap Team, 30 Nov 2015.

This photo of a nudibranch (a seaslug) was emailed between scientists in South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and finally the Northern Territory before it could be identified. Read why this rare Redmap sighting excited Redmap scientists.

Photo Credit: Michael Reynolds. Logged on Redmap by T-arn Stapleton

Redmap recently received a nudibranch sighting from South Australia that created quite a buzz. Credit should partly go to the vigilant dive community in South Australia who pointed out to the finder (via an online forum) that this species was quite unusual to the area – and encouraged him to log it on Redmap.

Nudibranchs (or ‘sea slugs’ and their relatives) can be quite difficult to verify, so we enlisted the help of a number of scientists across the country. To give you some idea of the kind of distances your sightings might travel to: this sighting and information travelled to Kate Rodda (Fisheries and Aquaculture, Primary Industries and Regions) in South Australia, Lisa Kirkendale, Western Australian Museum, and David Harasti (Marine Ecosystems Research, Fisheries, Department of Industry) in NSW, and finally to us here at Redmap headquarters Tasmania….before ending up with taxonomist and museum mollusc curator Richard Willan in the Northern Territory!

It’s not often we get a call from a senior curator of molluscs from Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory…well, never actually – this was a first! But moments after emailing the image – we did get a call! Dr Willan was quite excited about the sighting and confirmed the species was Spurilla braziliana (family Aeolidiidae).

So why was he so excited?

This sighting is certainly not a range-extending species, but a species that is only recently known to Australia (i.e. not a native species – one that has been introduced from elsewhere) and one for which there are no records of in South Australia as far as we are aware. The species has been showing up in parts of NSW recently – with the first official record from NSW in 2005. Therefore this Redmap sighting helps to paint a better picture of its current distribution in Australia. So a big thank you to the Redmap volunteer and all involved – it was a real team effort.

To check out this sighting, please go here:

For more information on nudibranchs:

Other Redmap sightings of this species:

And to find out a little more about why we sometimes record non range-extending sightings, please go here:

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