No fewer than 14 new-to-science Indo-Pacific nudibranchs were described by the California Academy of Sciences (CAS) during 2022.
The man responsible, invertebrate zoology curator and diver Dr Terry Gosliner, is said to have described about a quarter of all the sea-slugs known to science. Celebrating his 40th year with the San Francisco-based academy’s Institute of Biodiversity Science & Sustainability, he and his team had decided to concentrate on the smaller slugs that scuba divers find hardest to spot, in the Philippines and elsewhere in the Coral Triangle.
The 1.5cm Goniobranchus fabulus (small bean) was the giant of the 14, while at the other end of the scale Murphydoris adusta was little more than 2mm long.
Dr Gosliner’s research was carried out with the help of the DNA-sequencing capabilities of the academy’s Centre for Comparative Genomics and the community of sea-slug enthusiasts who contribute to the community science platform iNaturalist.
“Users are uploading observations in real time, which gives us a snapshot of current species ranges,” said academy researcher Lynn Bonomo of the platform. “It’s a powerful tool for tracking changes and monitoring the health of coral reefs and other marine ecosystems.”
Dr Gosliner has now published more than 150 scientific papers and five books focusing on nudibranchs and their evolution.
In March, Divernet reported on another significant underwater CAS development, the first fish to be described by a Maldivian researcher, and to be named in the Dhivevi language, the rose-veiled fairy wrasse (Cirrhilabrus finifenmaa). It was one of seven new fish species and four sharks to be described by academy researchers in 2022.