FWC biologists discover new species in Hillsborough fisherman’s catch
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 727-896-8626
Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC), along with scientists from California State
Polytechnic University, have identified a new marine species found
in the Gulf of Mexico. A scientific publication released Thursday
officially announced the discovery of Chromodoris fentoni,
a type of shell-less snail known as a nudibranch (pronounced
FWC biologists first observed this nudibranch when commercial
aquarium-trade fisherman Daniel Fenton of Brandon donated sponges
and other specimens to the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research
Institute (FWRI) in St. Petersburg in 2009. Fenton collected the
specimens from the Gulf of Mexico, off Tarpon Springs. While
sorting through the donation, FWRI biologists Nancy Sheridan and
Joan Herrera observed the unusual creature.
"We were not able to identify one of the nudibranchs and
realized that it was possible we were seeing something entirely
new," said Sheridan. "The discovery was especially rewarding
because it resulted from a cooperative effort between industry and
Herrera and Sheridan sent samples to Dr. Angel Valdes of
California State Polytechnic University, and he verified that this
species had never been documented.
"The opportunity to work with Dr. Valdes, a world-class
nudibranch expert, has been really exciting for us," said FWRI
Curator of Collections, Dr. Joan Herrera. "At FWRI, we receive
thousands of specimens each year, yet it is rare to find a species
that is new to science."
The article about C. fentoni appeared in the 2011
volume of the "American Malacological Bulletin," published
Thursday, March 31. The article also notes that FWRI biologists
found another species of nudibranch called Glossodoris
punctilucens. This species had not been documented since 1890,
except once in a photograph.
A member of the phylum Mollusca, adult nudibranchs have external
gills and no shell. They typically feed on sponges, corals,
anemones and other sea life. Nudibranchs come in various shapes and
sizes, ranging from 1/8-inch to 2 feet in length. C.
fentoni is a colorful creature with bright red markings on an
off-white background. Its oblong body reaches an approximate length
of 1 inch.
For more information on
nudibranchs, visit MyFWC.com/Research, and
search "Nudibranchs of Florida."