MY friends and I dive for fun most of the time (other times we dive for a cause), and while we love stalking fishes for the sheer challenge of getting a photograph of them before they are spooked and flip away using our point and shoot underwater cameras (we can’t afford the expensive DSLR housing), we love most to stalk critters.

Slugs of all shapes and colors – from simple slugs to the more flamboyant nudibranchs (noo-dee-branks) – are our favorites. Thus, when one dive outing presents us with even one beautiful slug, we go home happy and looking forward to yet another day in that same dive site.

Thus we look forward to yet another dive off the waters of barangay Tagbaobo in the Island Garden City of Samal because of this beautiful nudibranch, most likely an Ardeadoris egretta. It was so huge and so graceful it reminded me of an orchid.

My favorite parts of a nudibranch are its antennae (as these somehow give ‘exoression’ to the eyeless critter) and its breathing apparatus, the thatch of petal-like extremities that wave with the current.

Yes, they’re slugs and we don’t like slugs that much. But not when underwater. Underwater, these shell-less mollusks have the most fascinating shapes, patterns, and colors, they underline my theory that underwater is God’s creative workshop; where nature was allowed to play with colors and shapes and functions, so unlike what we see on land.

Underwater is where the slugs burst out in colors and flamboyance, and where the unusual are the norm. Where what looks like plants walk on their roots, where rocks are actually animals, animals look like flowers. If you think The Edge Chronicles are cool, the unusual beings there are nothing to the real living creatures under the sea.

There are thousands of nudibranch species, and more are being discovered. Each one distinct of color, shape, and design. A visual treat, indeed, one that can truly make your day… wait till you see the even more flamboyant critters down there.

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