Nudibranchs are one of my favorite underwater critters to photograph. They typically display flamboyant coloration and are slow moving, perfect for macro photography. I also like the challenge of finding them, especially diving in the Caribbean. The photograph below is a Gold Line Sea Goddess (Hypselodoris ruthae) I found diving Tent Reef in Saba.Just how small is a nudibranch? They range in size from the huge Spanish Dancer, which can be up to 40cm / 15+ inches long, down to the size of, well Tony from Saba Deep Dive Center said it best: a fingernail clipping. The images below should give you sense of how difficult it is to find some of the smaller nudibranchs. The first image below shows the size of the nudibranch in relationship to the boulder I found it on. The second picture shows the size of the boulder in comparison to the rest of the reef. So essentially it’s like finding a fingernail clipping on a rock the size of a watermelon in the ocean.
How does one ever find such a tiny thing in the midst of the vast ocean? The first step is diving very slowly. You’ll never see anything like this if you’re moving quickly. I could easily spend 10 minutes inspecting just a few square feet. Having excellent buoyancy also helps you hover closer to the reef without touching. The last thing I do is review pictures in my nudibranch field guide before diving. I feels this trains my brain on the types of pattern and color combinations I am trying to detect. So far it seems to be paying off, and as always a little luck helps too.