A new discovery of a species of nudibranch was  recently described by our partners on Koh Tao, the New Heaven Reef Conservation Program. The previously undescribed species was first recorded on the team’s coral nurseries in 2009, while instructors and students were preforming their regular maintenance duties. They did not initially realize the importance of their discovery, and were merely mesmerized by the beauty of this unique sea slug.

A figure from the report (Korshunova et al. 2019)
A figure from the report (Korshunova et al. 2019)

Later, Conservation Diver trainer and long-time NHRCP instructor, Rahul Mehrotra realized that this species was new to science while working on a paper related to his PhD. Rahul then worked with other researchers to describe the animal, which is now known as Unidentia aliciae.

This is the third nudibranch species which has been described from Koh Tao through Rahul’s work (also Arminia occulta and Armina scotti), bringing the number of known sea slugs from the island to a total of over 150 species, with several more undescribed species recorded. Rahul, and the team at the NHRCP are continuing their efforts to document and increase the knowledge of the biodiversity of the island’s reefs in a concerted effort to protect it. You can read more about this story on their website.

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