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Gippsland's nudibranch is a fashion explosion crawling off the coral catwalk.

Dec 23, 2020


Words: Mim Hook

There’s seriously a nudibranch to match any occasion...

Great Aunt’s 100th birthday? Check out Thorunna perplexa, found off the beaches of Mallacoota. Work Christmas party? Chromodoris tasmaniensis from the coasts of Cape Conran will have you sorted. If you haven’t embraced Gippsland’s Nudibranch Fashion explosion yet, it’s time to explore the forgotten corners of your wardrobe and get inspired!

The nudibranch is more than a sea slug; it’s the most fashionable creature of the sea and it’s crawling off the coral catwalk and into Gippsland haute couture.

Holly Baird is a vet and professional diver in Marlo, Far East Gippsland. Holly’s passion is finding and photographing nudibranchs.

“The name ‘Nudibranch’ is derived from Latin and means ‘naked gills’, referring to the glorious feathery plume on the nudibranch’s back through which they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide.

“There are over 3000 documented species, and undoubtedly many more that have simply not been discovered. They come in every colour of the rainbow and an array of patterns and textures. Their surfaces vary between spotted and striped, velvety and smooth, nobbly and spiky, not unlike the fashion creations of the high-end fashion houses!” says Holly.

“Nudibranch enthusiasts are almost cult-like in their obsession. My own Nudibranch fascination began while diving the reefs off Cape Conran. I’m a natural-born bowerbird. I love bright colours and bold patterns, I wish there were more nudibranch-inspired fashions, I would buy them all!

They’re effectively a solar-powered slug!”

“My most exciting Nudibranch find at the moment is the incredibly beautiful Pteraeolidia ianthina (always use the Latin names, common names are frowned upon by Nudibranch nerds!). The incredible animal is covered in electric blue projections called cerata, which remind me of a 1920s flapper dress. The cerata aren’t just beautiful, they contain microscopic plants which photosynthesise the solar energy from the sun into food for themselves, and also for the nudibranch. They’re effectively a solar-powered slug!” exclaims Holly.

Now, it’s your turn to throw on a nudibranch inspired outfit… and we’d love you to share your moments, so please show them off and tag #nudibranch_fashion on Instagram.

Ceratosoma amoenum
Ceratosoma amoenum

Mallacoota.

Photography by Jes John.

Ceratosoma amoenum is inspiring the fashion of Kellie and Piper Lawler, a mother-daughter combo from Bruthen. Kellie organises events such as Frouteville and Bruthen Blues, while Piper is a gun rollerskater and accomplished fashionista.

Pteraeolidia ianthina
Pteraeolidia ianthina

Gabo Island.

Photography by Mim Hook.

Sale’s Michelle Roger has been inspired by Pteraeolidia ianthina. Michelle is a disabled writer, artist and fashion lover. She runs the Facebook page ‘Up and Dressed’ and is an advocate for inclusive fashion — this has included rolling the catwalk of Melbourne Fashion Week and being a part of a New York Fashion Week video.

Ceratosoma brevicaudatum
Ceratosoma brevicaudatum

Port Welshpool Slipway.Photography by Mim Hook and Georgia Miles

Ceratosoma brevicaudatumis providing fashion inspiration for Melodyia Schubiduu. Lydi is a yoga teacher at Sheoak Bay, East Gippsland. You can find her on Facebook at ‘Lydi Loves Yoga’.

Hypselodoris bennetti
Hypselodoris bennetti

Cape Conran.

Photography by Georgia.

Johnson of Lili and Pearl Photography.

Hypselodoris bennetti has inspired the fashion of Sale’s Leanne Flaherty. Leanne took Gippsland by storm with her wonderful imitations of famous paintings during the COVID lockdown posted on her Instagram account, @leanne.flaherty.

Goniobranchus hunterae
Goniobranchus hunterae

Cape Conran.

Photography by Georgia.

Johnson of Lili and Pearl Photography.

Goniobranchus hunterae is providing the fashion inspiration of River Mayman from Longford. River is a Wellington Shire Youth Ambassador and livestreams gaming via Twitch, where you can follow them at twitch.tv/river_exe.

Ceratosoma brevicaudatum
Ceratosoma brevicaudatum

Gabo Island.

Photography by Mim Hook.

The look of Cowwarr musician Harry Hook has been inspired by Ceratosoma brevicaudatum. Harry is releasing a new album, No Snake in the Tree, on New Year’s Day. You’ll be able to find Harry’s new music via your favourite music streaming platforms.

Also inspired by Ceratosoma brevicaudatum is chihuahua Grace Rainbow, who calls Sale home.

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