Very rare nudibranch photographed

Proctonotus mucroniferus

During a nightdive outside Kristiansund on the Norwegian west coast, I came across an extremely rare nudibranch - Proctonotus mucroniferus. This may be the first image ever of this species in situ.

Posted on May 22, 2007

Proctonotus mucroniferus has not previously been recorded in Norway - in fact, there are almost no records of it whatsoever.

Known from less than six observations from the Britain Isles and the Atlantic coast of France, the Proctonotus has only been recorded once since 1937 - until it suddenly turned up close to Kristiansund on the Norwegian west coast.

The first in situ image?

There seems to be only one picture of this species in existence - taken in a petri dish. The image above is probably the first and so far only image of the Proctonotus in situ.

The species was described by Alder & Hancock in 1844, but from back then only drawings exist. It's still impressive how much those guys (and others) knew at the time!

For obvious reasons Proctonotus is not in any of the nudibranch books available, and I had to get some expert help to identify the 10 mm long, strange-looking nudibranch.

Expert verdict

The combined effort of nudibranch expert Jussi Evertsen at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim and Bill Rudman from Seaslugforum soon made it clear that it was a Proctonotus mucroniferus - and a sensational find.

Jussi Evertsen has been running a nudibranch project together with fellow scientist Torkild Bakken since 1997, and know almost all there is to know about the Norwegian species.

» Click here to visit the nudibranch project blog

Here is what Bill Rudman posted on Seaslugforum after we had been in touch about the Proctonotus:

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