IMAGES: Speaking of Slugs

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Science  29 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5697, pp. 787
DOI: 10.1126/science.306.5697.787c

Sea slugs such as Pteraeolidia ianthina from the southeast coast of Australia are a far cry from their dowdy, garden-lurking cousins. The flashy marine mollusks caught the eye of American novelist John Steinbeck, who in Cannery Row described them “slid[ing] gracefully over the rocks, their skirts waving like the dresses of Spanish dancers.” Modern fans of the creatures can share information at the newly revamped Sea Slug Forum, hosted by malacologist Bill Rudman of the Australian Museum in Sydney. The site includes more than 30,000 images, and fact sheets offer tidbits on the biology of about 1400 species from around the world. For example, Pteraeolidia ianthina hosts colonies of photosynthetic algae, which share their food with the slug and account for its brownish color. In the forum section, an audience including scientists and scuba divers talks taxonomy and ecology, mulls photos of hard-to-identify specimens, and swaps sea slug lore.

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