3 Really Unique Nudibranchs

Irwin Ang shares photos, locations and info on three very unique and photogenic nudibranchs
By Irwin Ang

Nudibranchs are one of the most popular subjects for underwater photographers.  They are very colorful and usually stay still or move very slowly, making them easier to shoot than fast-moving macro subjects.  Photographers aim to shoot their rhinopores, little antenas sticking out from their heads, which substitute nicely for eyes (since nudibranchs don't have developed eyes).

Nudibranchs come in different shapes and sizes, from a few millimeters to a few inches. Often they are colorful and cute to see, but there are also some that are transparent, which is hard to see and much harder to photograph. Those transparent nudibranchs are considered the "holy grail" of the nudibranchs that underwater photographers shoot. 

In this feature, Irwin Ang share photos of three unique nudibranchs along with a story behind each shot.



ID:  Nudibranch (Thecacera sp-purple)

Location:  Anilao, Philippines

Camera Gear:  Nikon D7000, Nauticam housing, Nikkor 105mm macro lens, 2x Inon Z-240 strobes, F.I.T PRO LED 2400 focus light, Subsee +10 diopter

Camera Settings:  1/125sec, F20, ISO100

The most vibrantly coloured nudibranch I have seen, with purple and orange spotting mixed together. I got lucky when I saw this nudibranch. It was hanging on a hydroid (food source), and before clicking the shutter I decided it would be nice to create a blue background and combine that with large depth of field to create the image you see here.


Title:  Butterfly

ID:  Nudibranch (Cyerce elegans)

Location:  Anilao, Philippines

Camera Gear:  Nikon D7000 Nauticam, Nikkor 105mm macro lens, 2x Inon Z-240 strobes, F.I.T PRO LED 2400 focus light, Aquako III diopter

Camera Settings:  1/320sec, F32, ISO100

One of the most rare nudibranchs to find, the Cyerce elegans has so far only been seen in the Philippines (Anilao/Romblon). It is very to difficult to shoot as it moves around a lot. I think the best way to shoot this Cyerce elegant to create a stunning image is to create a black background so the transparency of the yellow body will pop and stand out.


Title:  Couple

ID:  Nudibranch (Costasiella sp. 3)

Location:  Tulamben, Bali, Indonesia

Camera Gear:  Nikon D7000, Nauticam housing, Nikkor 105mm macro lens, 2x Inon Z-240 strobes, A.T.G 2300 Video Light, A.T.G +10 diopter

Camera Settings:  1/320sec, F22, ISO100


The Celebrity of Tulamben, known as Shaun the Sheep (Costasiella sp. 3)

 Shaun the Sheep is on almost everyone’s nudibranch photo collection wishlist. I visited during the right season for this nudibranch in Tulamben, and there were many of them living on the green leafs underwater. I was surprised at the size of this Costasiella - it was big!  I estimate around 5-8mm, which made it easy to shoot. I composed this scene with two nudibranchs to try something new while still making the nudibranch look cute.



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IRWIN ANG.  Born and bred in the beautiful Malaysia, Irwin Ang is an avid nature lover, especially the colourful and mystical underwater world. Since picking up the diving sport in 2011, Irwin was promoted to a diving coach few years later. Today, he has attained the status of a world-class award-winning underwater photographer. Irwin is here to share his thoughts, rich experiences and the techniques with you. Sink in to Irwin's motto: Explore, Create, Share... and learn the tricks of capturing the most memorable underwater moments.


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