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  • José H. Leal

A Very Special Sea Slug!

A sea slug that lives in open water, looks like a fish, and glows in the dark? That is Phylliroe bucephala, a transparent, three inches-long nudibranch mollusk that can be found swimming in the upper layers of the open ocean throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical ocean regions.



This image, by black-water diver and photographer Linda Ianiello of West Palm Beach, Florida, shows the sea slug feeding on a jellyfish, possibly a Aequorea species. A few amphipod crustaceans can be seen within the bell (the round part on top) of the jellyfish. Young Phylliroe bucephala attach to the inside of the bell, on which they feed prior to becoming adults. This image will be part of the exhibition Blackwater Moments: Nocturnal Photography of Open-Ocean Mollusks that will open on December 10, 2021 at the Museum. The exhibition will display images by Linda Ianiello and Susan Mears.