New species of sea slugs found close to Maha, Gujarat shores
Two new species of sea slugs have been discovered near the shores in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
One of the species has been described as Cratena poshitraensis, which was found from the Poshitra region in Gujarat and spreads across Porbandar, Dwarka, Okha and Veraval. The second species, Cratena pawarshindeorum, which was recorded first from the rocky intertidal shores in Uran, spreads all the way to Mumbai and further along the Konkan coast.
Sea slugs (Cratena species) are soft-bodied, shell-less mollusks having a variety of colours, living in mostly shallow-water habitats, including reefs, marshes, and creeks.
The findings by a team of marine researchers from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) was published in international taxonomic journal, Zootaxa on Thursday. The study was done by researchers Monisha Bharate, Deepak Apte, and Gaurav Shimp along with Brazilian researcher Vinicius Padula over the past 13 years under the Union environment ministry’s all India coordinated project.
“They [sea slugs] may not have huge ecological contributions but their presence along isolated intertidal patches helps join the dots for understanding evolutionary changes,” said Apte, director, BNHS.
The new species from Gujarat is 25mm in length with a white body, orange spots on the head and orange to deep red tentacles. Some species also had purple tentacles. The species documented from Maharashtra is about 30mm long with a white body with much darker orange to red spots.
“During field visits, we realised that the characteristics of these two species were slightly different from other known ones. Molecular data analysis helped us realise that these species are new to science,” said Apte.
The species found in Maharashtra was named after BNHS researchers Rajendra Pawar and Vishwas Shinde for their contributions in the study.
“It has been spotted by marine enthusiasts and researchers from the Marine life of Mumbai as well,” added Apte.