How do nudibranchs breathe?
January 21, 2000
From: Lillie Hetze
First of all, Happy New year and thank you for such a great site!
I have being doing some research about nudibranchs and would like to know whether the following statement is true or false:
"Nudibranchs have external bronchial tubes used for breathing, and they grow a new one every day".
I never heard or read about the last part. Would you be able to clarify this ? (I will be waiting anxiously, please respond !)
Thank you so much for your assistance.
Lillie.Hetze@compaq.comHetze, L., 2000 (Jan 21) How do nudibranchs breathe?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/1762
'Breathing' is basically the process animals use to take oxygen into their bodies and remove carbon dioxide and other unwanted gases. Land animals usually have some internal sac (lungs) connected to the body's blood system to do this. Many small animals living in water are able to exchange dissolved gases directly through their skins and so don't have any specially developed breathing organs. Bigger animals, with thicker skins and usually some internal blood circulatory system, often have some structure with thin skin which they use for 'breathing'.
Often they have some sort of feathery 'gill' or set of gills, each gill being a very folded patch of thin skin. Many nudibranchs have gills. Other nudibranchs, especially the aeolids, have tubular organs, called (cerata), which serve the same purpose.
In some nudibranchs, especially in the genus Phylodesmium, these cerata can drop off, much like a lizard drops it tail. These cerata can be regrown, which may have led to the story you have heard that they grow a new one every day. Have a look at the page on autotomy to see examples. You will find good examples of gills on the Torsion & Nudibranch Gills Page.
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