This week in Lembongan… Last night a few of our divers headed out for a night dive in Lembongan Bay. A fairly shallow dive site which in terms of currents and waves, is a strong contrast to the other dive sites around Lembongan and Penida but it is these differences in conditions, that make it a great spot for night dives. Normally Spanish Dancers are pretty rare to find around Lembongan, but it is these crazy nudibranch that are dive guides are looking for on night dives. The Spanish dancer is a large dorid nudibranch which can grow up to a maximum length of 60 cm. However, the commonly observed size is between 20 and 30 cm long. Its body coloration is generally orange-red speckled with multiple small white dots but it also can be uniformly bright red or yellow with red scattered spots. Its body is soft and flattened, the anterior dorsal portion has a pair of retractable rhinophores and the posterior part has six contractile gills inserted independently in the body. The pair of oral tentacles are constituted by a fin flexible membrane provided with large digital lobes.
During daytime, the Spanish dancer hides away from the light in the crevices of its natural habitat to only come out late at night. It feeds on various species of sponge. Like all nudibranchs, it is hermaphrodite and its bright red to pink egg ribbon has a spiral shape related to the size of the animal so relatively large.
In a normal situation when the animal is crawling, the edges of its mantle are curled inwards creating a peripheral blister. If the animal is disturbed, it unfolds its edges and can swim through contractions and undulations of the body to move away from the disturbing element. Its common name, Spanish dancer, comes from this particular defense.