“Do you ever see “Madonna’s Bra” in Lembeh?” a guest asked at the Two Fish dinner table this week. After finally figuring out what exactly the guest was referring to, a whole conversation about hilarious critter names ensued. As it turns out, “Madonna’s Bra” is the common name for the rarely encountered Platyctene Ctenophore (pronounced “teen-a-for”). Though it resembles a sea slug as it attaches to the seabed, Madonna’s Bra is not in fact a sea slug at all. Similar to other animals in its Comb Jelly phylum, two stinging tentacles protrude from each mound of the “bra”. When unsuspecting planktonic animals get ensnared in the tentacles of the Ctenophore, the tasty morsel is drawn into the body of the animal for consumption.
The common name “Madonna’s Bra” is in no way related to its scientific name, as is the case with our two favorite Nudibranch names: “Shaun the Sheep” and “Pikachu”. Since Nudibranches have scientific names that are difficult to learn, many take on fittingly descriptive common names. Members of the Sap Sucking Slug family Costasiella are a teeny-tiny nudibranch that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Magnified photos reveal a nudi that resembles a wooly sheep, which has earned it the nickname “Shaun the Sheep” after a well-known sheep cartoon. Similarly, members of the Thecacera family have earned themselves the common name “Pikachu” after the ever popular Pokémon character.
But in the end, my personal favorite when it comes to Lembeh critter names is that of the Wonderpus Octopus. Many years ago I was surprised to learn that “Wonderpus” is in fact the animal’s scientific name! The Wonderpus photogenicus continues to surprise and delight visitors to Two Fish Lembeh with its unique and hilarious name. (Do you have a favorite critter name? If so, please post in the comments section below.)
Photos read clockwise: Madonna’s Bra, Pikachu, Wonderpus, and Shaun the Sheep