Orange Peel Nudibranch: Butterflies of the Sea
The orange peel nudibranchs are brilliantly coloured creatures located in rocky subtidal zones along the West coast of North America between Northern Alaska and Southern California.The orange peel nudibranchs are molluscs which lack any shell as adults. They live in rocky subtidal zones along the West coast of North America between Northern Alaska and Southern California. Nudibranch means ‘naked gill’ because their gills are located on the outside perimeter of their bodies. The combination of their white lace-like gills and white tipped tubercles give the appearance of an orange peel hence their name. The orange peel nudibranchs are unique because they are the largest of the nudibranch species ranging up to 50 centimeters in length!
Orange peel nudibranchs have a ribbon of teeth adapted to eat hydroids, orange sea pens and soft coral. They are the only nudibranch eaten raw or cooked by humans, particularly aboriginal communities in the the Kuril Islands.
Nudibranchs are essentially snails that have lost their shells. Since they have no hard shell for protection, the orange peel nudibranchs secrete toxic chemicals and a very thick layer of mucus if disturbed by animals or humans. The thick mucus is likened to the strength of silicone cement - it's that difficult to remove!
Orange peel nudibranchs have a short life span of approximately 1 year. Therefore, they grow rapidly and lay eggs often. Orange peel nudibranchs are hermaphrodites, both male and female at the same time. However, they are not self-fertilizing. Their eggs are strung together, encased in a gelatin shell and laid in a coil shape. The length of their egg deposits is usually around the size of their own length.
The orange peel nudibranch is not eaten by any other animal except humans.