The Melibe are sought-after by many underwater photographers

No need to go to space to find weird life forms. These ones can be found in all the world's oceans. Meet the Melibe. 😳

What is the Melibe viridis?

The Melibe viridis is a species belonging to the Melibe genus, which, in turn, belongs to the group of nudibranchs, of small marine mollusks. Essentially, it is a transparent type of sea slug that can reach a length of 5.5 inches. While most nudibranchs feed by slowly snacking on immobile animals, like sponges or coral, the Melibe are active hunters, eating small crustaceans they find on the ocean floor or around the algae that they attach themselves to. To capture them, they have an extendible oral hood that they close around their prey. Not only are some species of Melibe among the largest nudibranchs but some of them can also swim for several meters.

Like the other nudibranchs, the Melibe are also distinguished by the varied appearance of the 17 species that are currently recognized: Melibe arianeae, Melibe australis, Melibe bucephala, Melibe colemani, Melibe coralophilia, Melibe digitata, Melibe engeli, Melibe leonina, Melibe litvedi, Melibe maugeana, Melibe megaceras, Melibe minuta, Melibe papillosa, Melibe pilosa, Melibe rosea, Melibe tuberculata, and Melibe virdis. There are also three doubtful species that still have not been confirmed including Melibe capucina, Melibe ocellata, and Melibe rangi. This species, Melibe viridis, is popular with underwater photographers: since they are quasi-transparent, only their internal organs show. Between all these different species, the Melibe can be found almost everywhere around the world. However, this particular kind lives in the Mediterranean and Red Seas.

Warmer oceans endangering several species

The gradual rise in ocean temperatures and carbon dioxide levels may affect life for many sea creatures including the Melibe. For example, sea otters, which have been protected since 1911, have been dying in large groups as the warmer water produces a bacteria which renders mollusks, their diet, toxic to eat. The Red Sea is home to a very rich biodiversity including species that are endangered everywhere else. This unprecedented situation is being studied closely by scientists.