Thursday, September 10, 2009
Life Photo Meme: Frosted
I guess all larval animals have a clear, frosted appearance, but I choose this particular larva because it's special to me. This is a veliger larva, a larval stage which is typical to the marine snails. In particular, this is a baby lion nudibranch, Melibe leonina. This larva hatched today, and I am trying to rear them to adulthood.
The fuzzy bits toward the bottom of the veliger is cilia, which helps it swim. The two round dots that look like eyes are actually statocysts, which help the larva figure out orientation (up and down). These guys have a thin shell in the veliger stage, which they lose when they metamorphose into juveniles.
Adult lion nudibranchs live in the kelp canopy, and eat small creatures that live on the kelp or float by. They use their big oral hood much in the same way a Venus fly trap catches flies. Because of the way they feed, they are one of the easiest sea slugs to keep in a public aquarium. They are also one of the few sea slugs to swim.
It will take a little over month before these little veligers metamorphose and settle into the adult form. It will be a welcome challenge to try and keep some of them alive for that long.