New Week Nudi: Hopkin’s Rose Nudibranch

photo: Ron Wolf

Habitat: West Coast of Nth America from Oregon south to Baja California
Status: No Conservation Concerns

The Hopkin’s Rose nudibranch one of the wildest nudis I’ve ever had the pleasure to share with you all. It looks like something the Little Mermaid would wear in her hair… in fact I feel like she did.

The Hopkin’s Rose nudibranch is entirely pink (even the slug-like body underneath the long papillae) except for the white tips at the ends of the soft papillae. These flowery creatures grow to around 30 mm. The perfect size for a mermaid hair accessory?

The reason this Hopkin’s Rose nudibranch can keep such a sweet pink color is that it actually gets it from the food it eats. The pink is produced by the xanthophyllic pigment hopkinsiaxanthin, most likely obtained through feeding on the cheilostomatous bryozoan, Integripelta bilabiata. It’s kind of like how flamingos keep their pink color by obtaining carotenoid proteins in their diet of animal and plant plankton.

Guess you are really what you eat, in this case at least!