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davec13o2

Best Caribbean sites for nudibranchs?

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I'd like to plan a one week trip to the Caribbean in November to look for nudibranchs.  Is there one area better than others to increase the chance of sightings, or is it uniformly just a matter of looking carefully?  I've checked out the book "Cayman Nudibranchs" by Turner, et al; and at this point, suppose that would be just as good a destination as any other.

 

Edited by davec13o2

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Where ever you end up going, in my experience you'll have most luck seeing the more uncommon nudibranchs during night dives. 

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You need to go slow and look at the likely habitats.....which means going on guided boat dives is NOT what you want. Rubble, algae, sea grass....and they will me small, much smaller than the Pacific nudis. Last week at Blue Heron Bridge we dived 10 hours over 5 days, looking hard, and found maybe 8, none bigger than a 10-12mm.

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I've had decent success in Cozumel. 8/9 different varieties in 4 days of diving, but overall the carrib is going to be a crapshoot. lots of flamingo tongues and crispatas, but it's probably not going to be much of a 'nudi focus' trip unfortunately... ive seen the occasional spotted nudi on the belize atols and a leopard slug or two off ambergris cayes...

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Here's a quote from the Pura Vida dive shop near the Phil Foster State Park:

Quote

over 100 different species of nudibranchs

aka the Blue Heron Bridge. Here's their URL: https://www.puravidadivers.com/dive-blue-heron-bridge-phil-foster-park

Also see the Force-E Dive shop at the other end of the bridge: https://www.force-e.com/dive-shops/riviera-beach/

Bring your super macro lens and your best spotter!

One of the best mantras I've learned over the years works here, too:

Quote

Go with local knowledge!

Enjoy,

Tom

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Hi,

Being one of the co authors of the Cayman Nudibranch Book, I can offer up some hints which hopefully will give you some what better odds than a just  crapshoot.:) Cor and Tursiops hit the main ones.

Forget the guided boat dives! You need to move very slow stopping frequently to really look. Ideally shore diving works the best. Most of what you see photographed in the book was found in the 15-60ft depth range, with the highest concentration being in the shallower depth. Boat dives are going to be too deep for you to spend adequate time looking. Hopefully you have a like minded buddy.

If I'm looking for them during the day, then I'm focusing on grasses, rubble, debris,( Tritoniopsis frydis love to congregate on dead sea rods) hydroids, and algae. Its pretty amazing what all is hiding a top the hard pan at Turtle Reef that divers never see on their rush to get to the mini or main wall. Look for egg coils on algae clumps( light fanning above the algae reveals more) usually a tell tale sign nudis are lurking .Don't forget to think small, and smaller. Those Nudibranchs in the Caribbean don't begin to compare in size to their Indo Pacific cousins, but it makes finding the little buggars even more special.

At night, its all about the sponges, all varieties. That is where you will find the greatest concentration of nudibranchs  out feeding. Each variety has their preferred dinner of choice. Trapania dalva seem to like Brown Bowl Sponges, Tritonia Bayeri Sea rods, etc,  They'll be on the algae as well, and at night as opposed to being buried deep within a clump they are most likely riding on the top edge of a leaf. If I was focusing a trip around finding them, I would plan on doing as many night dives as I could, multiples in one evening. Start just after dark, do one, get your SIT in and do another after the crowds have  gone home.:)

Be patient. They are there. If you know where and how to look. Familiarize yourself with their dietary habits and look to their food source.

If you decide on Cayman, and have other questions feel free to message me.

Happy Hunting!

Cindy

 

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Lots of great information.  Thanks so much.

I see now that this will take much study and careful observation - a big change from just jumping in and snapping away - but a great deal more interesting.

Thanks again,

Dave

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On 9/9/2019 at 2:17 PM, Quinn said:

Hi,

Being one of the co authors of the Cayman Nudibranch Book, I can offer up some hints which hopefully will give you some what better odds than a just  crapshoot.:) Cor and Tursiops hit the main ones.

Forget the guided boat dives! You need to move very slow stopping frequently to really look. Ideally shore diving works the best. Most of what you see photographed in the book was found in the 15-60ft depth range, with the highest concentration being in the shallower depth. Boat dives are going to be too deep for you to spend adequate time looking. Hopefully you have a like minded buddy.

If I'm looking for them during the day, then I'm focusing on grasses, rubble, debris,( Tritoniopsis frydis love to congregate on dead sea rods) hydroids, and algae. Its pretty amazing what all is hiding a top the hard pan at Turtle Reef that divers never see on their rush to get to the mini or main wall. Look for egg coils on algae clumps( light fanning above the algae reveals more) usually a tell tale sign nudis are lurking .Don't forget to think small, and smaller. Those Nudibranchs in the Caribbean don't begin to compare in size to their Indo Pacific cousins, but it makes finding the little buggars even more special.

At night, its all about the sponges, all varieties. That is where you will find the greatest concentration of nudibranchs  out feeding. Each variety has their preferred dinner of choice. Trapania dalva seem to like Brown Bowl Sponges, Tritonia Bayeri Sea rods, etc,  They'll be on the algae as well, and at night as opposed to being buried deep within a clump they are most likely riding on the top edge of a leaf. If I was focusing a trip around finding them, I would plan on doing as many night dives as I could, multiples in one evening. Start just after dark, do one, get your SIT in and do another after the crowds have  gone home.:)

Be patient. They are there. If you know where and how to look. Familiarize yourself with their dietary habits and look to their food source.

If you decide on Cayman, and have other questions feel free to message me.

Happy Hunting!

Cindy

If you have a private talk, can you please post all questions publicly.  I would love to learn myself.

 

This is also might be a great new thread to start.  How to find all sorts of creatures, from food habits, hunting habits, currents and other ways.  No one ever talks in detail how to find our underwater friends to take pictures of.

On 9/9/2019 at 2:17 PM, Quinn said:

 

 

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On 9/9/2019 at 2:17 PM, Quinn said:

Hi,

Being one of the co authors of the Cayman Nudibranch Book, I can offer up some hints which hopefully will give you some what better odds than a just  crapshoot.:) Cor and Tursiops hit the main ones.

Forget the guided boat dives! You need to move very slow stopping frequently to really look. Ideally shore diving works the best. Most of what you see photographed in the book was found in the 15-60ft depth range, with the highest concentration being in the shallower depth. Boat dives are going to be too deep for you to spend adequate time looking. Hopefully you have a like minded buddy.

 

I thought 9 different varieties over 4 days in coz was pretty decent to be honest, and they were on boat dives (all hail my DM/spotter) but i suppose 9 is decent if you haven't see more in that concentration of dives before :)  selection of examples below.. as stated, you would have to have the right DM though.. and the boat issue makes photography difficult as you don't always have the 20 mins you need to take the 100+ photos of the little guy to get 1 that is useable..

couple of these are not 'technically' nudis..but you get the drift...on the drift...

 

DSC_5857-600x375.jpg

 

DSC_6087-600x375.jpg

 

DSC_2485-Edit-2-600x387.jpg

 

DSC_0746-Enhanced-Edit-2-600x400.jpg

 

DSC_0047-600x566.jpg

 

DSC_0484-Enhanced-600x400.jpg

 

Edited by Ministryofgiraffes

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A series I did in Elysia crispata ( lettuce leaf slug) all macro Nauticam SMC-2 and 105mm. The third one down was actually more of an initial ‘throwaway’ shot but it made the top 10 for Divemag’s underwater photographer of the year, so I was pretty happy with that. 

I like abstract views on subjects that some would argue are boring or common.

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and....to agree with some of the points made above, the best course of action is likley to study the food that all of these guys eat and the standard depths they are at. Iv'e seen plenty of people stare at a painted elysia for 5 mins and see nothing, but once you realize what they eat, you see them everywhere..

 

One issue with Coz as well is the current makes photographing very difficult. so if that is the aim, i would suggest a smaller photog rig. 

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