Photos of colorful marine creatures discovered off Panama
Colorful marine creatures discovered off Panama
May 31, 2007
Researchers have discovered five new species of sea slug off the coast of Central America. Surveys have found that the region, known as the Tropical Eastern Pacific, is characterized by large numbers of endemic and previously unknown species.
Cerberilla chavezi, one of five new species of aeolid nudibranchs discovered in the Eastern Pacific. Photo by Alicia Hermosillo
The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) reports that recent expeditions have turned up 5 new species of nudibranchs—a group of mollusks lacking outer shells. The discoveries are important because nudibranchs have developed “sophisticated chemical defense mechanisms” which can help with the development of novel medicinal products.
STRI lists the following species as new to science:
- Cerberilla chavezi sp. was collected from the Bahia de Santiago, Colima in Mexico and is named for Roberto Chavez, who provided assistance during fieldwork and suggested dive sites.
- Cuthona destinyae came out of hull scrapings from the M/V Destiny in La Gordornia, Guerrero, Mexico, and thus, is named for the boat.
- Cuthona millenae, named for Sandra Millen for her knowledge of Pacific nudibranchs, was collected from under a rock at 19m depth in the Bahia de Banderas, Jalisco-Nayarit, Mexico.
- Cuthona behrensi, a beautiful white specimen with white-tipped rhinophores named for nudibranch specialist Dave Behrens, who supported the research effort, was found by Alicia Hermosillo under a rock at 13m depth at Los Frailes, Golfo de Chiriqui, Panama.
- Eubranchus yolandae was collected from Los Arcos, Bahia de Banderas, Jalisco-Nayarit, Mexico, from a rock wall at a depth of 17m. This species was named for Yolanda Camacho-Garcia for her contributions to the knowledge of Pacific opistohbranchs.
- Herviella sp., was photographed and collected by Alicia Hermosillo from a floating buoy southeast of Isla Coiba, Coiba National Park, Panama. The new species status and naming of this animal awaits the discovery of additional specimens.
The descriptions are published in American Malacological Bulletin. 22: 119-137. Alicia Hermosillo, a researcher at the Universidad de Guadalajara in Mexico, and Angel Valdes, assistant curator of Malacology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, are the authors of the paper.