Double-headed psychedelic sea slug is discovered off the coast of Borneo
Divers have discovered what is believed to
be the world’s first two-headed sea slug. A diver came across the psychedelic creature
near a sandbar called Kapalai off the coast of Sabah in eastern Malaysian Borneo.
The abnormality may have been caused by a birth defect or even pollution. As well as having two heads, the slug, or
nudibranch as they are also known, also possesses both female and male sex organs because all
nudibranches are hermaphrodites. The creature, measuring around an inch-long
(2.5cm) is part of the species nembrotha kubaryana, but is more commonly known as a variable neon
slug due to its incredible colouring of neon green and bright orange which warns predators
of their toxicity. They feed on sea squirts – tiny creatures
with bag-like bodies – removing chemicals from them which it then stores, before exuding
as a slimy mucus if it is threatened by predators. Dive master Nash Baiti made the find while
he was working for film company Scubazoo, making a new series called ‘Borneo from Below’. He showed the creature to Clay Bryce, a nudibranch
expert and marine biologist at the Western Australian Museum in Perth.
‘I have never seen another two headed marine creature like this before and I have spent
10,000 hours underwater chasing nudibranchs,’ said Mr Bryce.
‘Usually this sort of deformity sets the animal up for an early death, but it does appear
to be adult or at least sub-adult so perhaps this is a case of two heads being better than
one,’ he quipped. ‘It is a birth defect. Just a slight mix up
of genes or perhaps damage caused by pollution. ‘However, the latter one would expect more
incidences to have occurred.’ The crew were searching for the island’s most
interesting underwater inhabitants to feature in their film, but had not expected to find
a one-off. The film’s presenter, Aaron ‘Bertie’ Gekoski
said: ‘When Nash came back from the dive and reported his find we didn’t believe him at
first! ‘Due to our film schedule we couldn’t get
out there for another 72 hours, so were very sceptical that it would be found again.
‘However, Nash managed to locate it in exactly the same place as before.
‘Perhaps its two heads pulled in different directions, bringing it to an eternal standstill?
‘I spent nearly an hour with the nudibranch, waiting for it to get in the right position
for a head shot. ‘It’s not just its two heads, but amazing
neon colouring that make it really stand out.’ While the unusual specimen found was just
one inch (2.5cm) long, the sea slug species can grow to measure five inches long (12cm).