“Shaun The Sheep” Nudibranch – More Than A Cute Name

This little nudibranch fondly named “Shaun the sheep” is more than just a very cute name.  It is so called because of its beady eyes and cute feelers. The scientific name is Costasiella kuroshimae from the genus  Costasiella. It is also called a “Leaf Sheep” as it loves to graze on algae constantly. Adults can grow up to 5 mm (0.25  inch). Found in region of Japan,Indonesia and Philippines.

Its uniqueness is also of interest to the scientific community as it is known to be the only organism in the world that can perform photosynthesis through a process called KLEPTOPLASTY.  This is the ability to incorporate the chloroplasts from the algae eaten by the nudibranch and assimilating them into the body of the nudibranch and use these chloroplasts to carry out photosynthesis and provide food for the nudibranch. So this nudibranch,  can be said to be “solar powered” !

“Shaun the Sheep” nudibranch ‘captured’ and taken by a Decorative Crab for decoration!

Recently, when  I was taking images of this cute little nudibranch using the “snoot-over -torch,  I was pleasantly surprised by what happened before my eyes!

Just as I was adjusting my D.O.F. and focusing on this little nudibranch, I noticed a sudden movement and disappearance of this nudibranch. I later learnt that this nudibranch was taken by a juvenile Decorative Crab to be used as a “decorative piece” and placed on its back! It was a quick move and before you knew it .. it was off.


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