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A Beautiful Tide Pool Gem

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Colorful, delicate and completely alien-looking, Oceanscape Network user Les Hutter shares his photo of an opalescent nudibranch he spotted in a tide pool near Cannon Beach in 2013.

These are one of the most eye-catching species of nudibranch. They range widely in color but almost always have bright orange backs with blue lines along each side. Cerrata (fingerlike projections) on their backs are brownish yellow, with white and gold tips.

To protect themselves from predators, nudibranchs are armed with nematocysts (stinging capsules). These nematocysts don’t harm the nudibranch; in fact, the animal transfers some of its prey’s unfired nematocysts to the tips of its own cerrata, where they become part of the nudibranch’s defense system. Some experts believe that nudibranchs’ gaudy colors warn predators of these potent weapons.

These are common animals along Oregon’s rocky shores and in our tide pools up to 120 feet in depth.

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