As our good summer draws into an equally lovely looking autumn, Terry & my attention turns to exploring the shallow rocky reefs off Oddicombe beach.
Admittedly part of this focus is because this cliff-lined beach is an amazing winter-sun trap at this time of year where Babbacombe won’t be seeing the direct sunlight for the next few months – this makes all the difference when you’re diving throughout the cold winter months!
The draw of this spot is it’s easy access to a nudibranch-rich seam of reefs. This stretch of coastline has slightly more water movement than Babbacombe and therefore the hydroid growth is denser – hence a higher concentration of nudibranchs here too.
Over the past couple of weeks one particular sponge and anemone covered rock-race has also been home to a few Mediterranean species of slug; all three of the Trapania species.
These small nudibranchs (less than 15mm long) are very pretty little creatures, fairly easy to spot despite being so small, and also easy to differentiate between each one.
Trapania maculata is the most striking with its bright yellow and markings and distinct triangle by its gills. Trapania tartanella is a fairly recent discovery in the UK (and I had my first sighting only last week), first being recorded in 2007 in Cornwall and is slightly plainer with its colouration but has a stunning yellow/orange colour to all it’s extremities. Finally, Trapania pallida is the odd one-out as it uses white pigmentation but has the same body-style as the others. The family resemblance is striking between all three!