Photos of nudibranch, giant clams and other molluscs found in Raja Ampat

December 2012

The reefs of West Papua is home to an incredible wide variety of molluscs including, of course, the colorful nudibranchs that can be sometimes seen also very close to the surface of the water. Giant clams can be found just everywhere and sometimes, in addition to unusual huge size, they display also beautiful colors.

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Sabellastarte sp. Sabellastarte worm
While snorkeling in Raja Ampat, like in many other tropical paradises, you will encounter a wide variety of molluscs, ranging from worms living anchored to corals, to giant clams. In the photos above, a worm belonging to the genus Sabellastarte, with feather-shaped structures designed to capture nutrients from the water.

 

Sabaellastarte sanctijosephi Sabaellastarte
Photos of worms belonging to genus Sabellastarte.

 

Bispira worm
Photo of worm belonging to genus Bispira and characterized by colorful tentacles.

 

Protula magnifica Coco worm
Photos of Protula. On the left picture, a worm belonging to the genus Protula (and exactly, Protula magnifica). On the right picture, you can see the tube within which the worm withdraws instantly when it gets disturbed.

 

Christmas tree worms Spirobranchus giganteus
The most popular marine worms are probably the "christmas tree worms" (Spirobranchus giganteus) so defined because of their spiral structures resembling a christmas tree. Some of the corals in Raja Ampat are home to dozens of christmas tree worms of many different vivid colors.

 

Christmas tree worm Spirobranchus
Blue worm
Spirobranchus photos. Pictures of christmas tree worms, showing different colors.

 

Spaghetti worm Spaghetti worms
Loimia worm Loimia medusa
Other marine worms, commonly called "spaghetti worms" because of their filamentous and very elongated shape. These sea worms belong to the genus Loimia (usually Loimia medusa).

 

Sea worm
A thick sea worm with the livery camouflaged as a backdrop.

 

Sea cucumber
Sea cucumbers

Sea cucumber photos.

The sea cucumbers include a large variety of molluscs having different shapes, sizes and colors.

 

Phyllidia elegans
A mollusc belonging to the group of sea slugs (nudibranch), identifiable as Phyllidia elegans.

 

Nudibranch Nudibranches
Leopard nudibranch

Nudibranchs photos.

Raja Ampat is home to a large number of nudibranchs (sea slugs) belonging to different genres. Unfortunately it is not always easy to see these molluscs, as they are fairly small (only a few centimetres in length) and tend to blend with the surrounding environment. Moreover, they are not always sufficiently close to the surface of the sea to be easily spotted during simple snorkeling trips (diving would be better).

The photo on the left shows two leopard nudibranchs, so called for their livery resembling the patterns normally found over leopards.

 

Mating nudibranchs
Photos of nudibranchs. Although nudibranchs are hermaphrodites, they do not mind to mate when they have such opportunity. This behaviour has the advantage of being able to reproduce in any case, even without a partner, ensuring at the same time some genetic variability in the case they are able to mate.

 

Tridacna gigas
While snorkeling in Raja Ampat, you may see giant clams of every size and color.

 

Giant clam
Giant clam photo, maybe one meter wide.

 

Tridacna
Giant clams
Blue giant clam
Photos of giant clams. The giant clams are usually anchored to corals, where they grow up to huge sizes. As in the case of Acropora coral, even giant clam's color is determined by a complex relationship between algae living in symbiosis and quantity of pigments.

 

Chiton Nerita undata
Also along the beaches you can observe different types of molluscs and shells. In the photo to the left, a chiton (Polyplacophora). In the photo to the right, a shell belonging to genus Nerita.

 

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