Dendronotus Iris: Tube-dwelling Anemone Predator
I shot this photo while on a trip in the Northern Channel Islands in mid-November. The Dendronotus iris has a veracious appetite for tube-dwelling anemones. They range widely in size and color, and are found throughout the Pacific coast of North America.
When this giant Nudi detects an anemone (its favorite food source) nearby, it slowly moves in for the kill, leaning back on its haunches and lunging forward in an all-out assault. The anemone typically retracts itself in an attempt to protect itself, inadvertently pulling in the attacker inside to finish the job. With a well-planned nudi attack, the tube-dwelling Anemone rarely comes out the victor.
On this particular dive I located the eggs near the 60 foot mark on a sandy bottom, and after looking around for about 10 minutes I located the predator feeding. In the next 40 minutes I watched it feed on at least four others.
The coldest times of the year can yield some of the highest Nudi counts on many dive sites in California and Baja. My record to date is 23 different species on a three-tank day. These are fascinating creatures that every diver can enjoy – so get out there and start looking for the little beauties!
Photo and story by Mike Bartick
See Mike’s other great work at SaltwaterPhoto.com!
California hosts over 100 different types of native Nudibranchs.