AQWA operations manager Sasha Thompson continues her occasional series with a look at another surprise of the sea, the nudibranch.
OUR breakfast gives us energy; however what if our vegemite on toast also gave us special powers?
Welcome to the world of the nudibranch where eating a potentially lethal lunch then repackaging it for your own defence is common place!
Nudibranchs are colourful sea slugs who carry their lungs on their back, have their teeth on their tongue and two tentacles on their head for tracking down their unusual choice of food – sponges, anemones or soft corals.
Packed with foul-tasting chemicals or stinging cells, this menu is avoided by other animals.
However nudibranchs are immune and rather than digest these defensive features they are isolated and stored ready for re use.
The short-tailed nudibranch only eats a particular type of sponge and stockpiles the chemicals it collects in the purple patch on its back.
If a fish tries to eat it, the foul taste will ensure that it is spat straight back out and its bright colours will act as a reminder not to try that again.
Look for this colourful creature next time you are snorkelling or diving.