Darwin and a Galapagos for Nudibranchs3
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In this underwater Galapagos, which Dupont now studies, there are areas of still water, high current, turbidity, clear blue gulfstream water, and the nitrate run-offs of the Loxahatchee River. A rich Mangrove covered shoreline buffers the river water, prior to its reaching the Marine Park area. The BHB shares a unique relationship where the tides push in clear water from the gulfstream for close to 6 hours, then pull the river and canal water back toward the BHB and out into the ocean for close to 6 hours, and then the process repeats itself. The conditions in the Park area are constantly changing. The characteristics ( morphology) of the bottom and potential living and feeding areas there, create an even greater demand for a creature living here to become “specialized”.

Scientists like Dupont are finding that the Nudibranchs of the BHB have not been content to live the way Scientists had previously thought. Nudibranchs are not supposed to like large currents; they are supposed to thrive in areas with fairly specific conditions. However, Dupont is finding species never seen in Florida before, ones that can only be discovered in high-current areas and are typically seen as the tide is goes out. Do the Nudibranchs like feeding on hydroids when the water is more nutrient rich, or is this more of a predator-avoidance behavior, as they would be harder for predators ( or photographers) to see in the considerably reduced visibility of an outgoing tide. Dupont and others believe that the unique conditions inside of the BHB area have led to some very interesting behaviors, and the Dive Teams she has working the area are literally as excited as Dupont about this.