Spanish Dancer Facts
- The rather visually stunning Spanish Dancer ranks as a comparatively large and brilliantly colored species of beautiful nudibranch.
- This species appears to be unique among sea slugs. Not only does this rather astonishing creature crawl across the ocean floor it also has the ability to swim freely through the ocean.
- In fact, to date, it remains the only known species of nudibranch to possess this ability. The evolutionary reason for this ability baffles researchers.
- The distinctive swirling motion that the fascinating creatures use to swim serves as the source of the vividly descriptive common name.
- While the IUCN does not yet have a listing for this animal, it remains highly vulnerable to the ongoing effects of climate change.
Spanish Dancer Physical Characteristics
Also known as sea slugs, the brilliantly colored Spanish Dancer represents a truly remarkable type of marine gastropod mollusk.
This lovely species represents one of the largest known types of nudibranch. Mature specimens attain a length of as much as 16 in (40 cm).
In coloring, individuals predominantly show a brilliant shade of red, with orange shadings. However, a yellow colored variant does exist.
This species also seems to be the only nudibranch to possess six gills instead of four.
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Mollusca
- Class: Gastropoda
- Order: Heterobronchia
- Family: Hexabranchidae
- Genus: Hexabranchus
- Species: H. sanguineus
Spanish Dancer Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The magnificently colored Spanish Dancer only appears to be endemic to specific portions of both the Red Sea and the Indo-Pacific Ocean.
For its habitat, the amazing ocean denizen typically prefers to live in rocky areas and coral reefs with many sponges and shelters at depths of up to 164 ft (50 m).
It has also developed a unique form of defense in that it routinely preys upon toxic jellyfish and sponges, being immune to their toxins. It then assimilates the poison into its own body and uses it in its own defense.
The female also will deposit this poison on top of her eggs to protect them from potential predators.