A scuba diver has spotted an extremely rare nudibranch off the coast of the Isles of Scilly – marking the first confirmed record of the species in the UK.
The multi-coloured Babakina anadoni is only 2cm long and was caught on camera by Seasearch volunteer Allen Murray, who was diving near uninhabited rock island Melledgan during The Wildlife Trust’s National Marine Week.
The sea-slug, a member of the Aeolid family, has been recorded only a handful of times, along Spain’s west coast and further south in the Atlantic, according to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trusts.
“What an incredible find!” said Cornwall Wildlife Trust marine conservation officer Matt Slater, who is also co-ordinator of the Seasearch programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. “We were extremely excited to hear about the sighting of this colourful nudibranch – a species that we believe has never been recorded in the UK before.
“It’s one of the prettiest sea slugs I’ve seen and, given that it’s less than half the size of your little finger, it’s amazing Allen spotted it at all.
“There’s still so much out there that we don’t know about our marine environment. Records like this from our Seasearch divers are vital in helping us understand and better protect our seas.”
“We never cease to be amazed at the wildlife turning up in Scillonian waters,” added Lucy McRobert, communications manager at the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust. “From rare and beautiful nudibranchs to violet sea snails to great whales like humpbacks and fins, every time we dive beneath the surface we learn and see something new.”
Cornwall Wildlife Trust encourages divers to record their underwater sightings in the county through ORKS (Online Recording Kernow and Scilly). You can also find out more about becoming a Seasearch volunteer diver.