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February 23, 2017
Vietnam Diving All Year Round with Rainbow Divers
April 5, 2017

Nudibranch – The Jewels of Vietnam Diving

Learn more with our PADI Nudibranch Speciality Course

Here in Vietnam we extremely fortunate to have such an array of beautiful nudibranch species at our dive sites. So much so that we have even written our own PADI Speciality program to help our divers to get the most from their dives with us – it’s incredibly rewarding to start spotting these creatures for yourself and to understand what they are what you are looking at when you see them!


What are Nudibranch? Nudibranch are often referred to as sea slugs but unlike common slugs that we find in our gardens. There are over 3,000 different species of nudibranch, and they can be found in all of the world’s oceans which makes them one of the most varied species on the planet – that’s pretty impressive for such small critters! Nudibranch can range from dull browns and blacks to being like “jewels” in the sea and displaying fluorescent shades and psychedelic patterns.

Here in Vietnam, we have spotted literally hundreds of different species (including some that still have to be identified), and they each have different characteristics and behaviours. One of our favourite species is the Hypselodoris Bullokii because of its stunning, vibrant colouration. Even its eggs are a vivid yellow colour!
Nudibranch can be divided into 2 main categories – Dorid and Aeloid. When looking at dorid nudibranch, you will notice two small appendages on the head – these are referred to as Rhinophores, and in some species, the nudibranch will retract these if it feels threatened. Dorids also have a feathery like looking bunch of appendages on their backs – these are actually their gills. Aeolids also have two Rhinophores, but unlike Dorids, their entire bodies are covered in finger-like “spikes” which are known as “cerata” and allow the nudibranch to breathe, digest and even act as defence mechanisms.

Nudibranch are completely harmless to humans, but some of them are incredibly toxic to other marine life which aims to prey on them as they can store poison in their systems.

Another incredible fact about nudibranch is that they are all hermaphrodites – this means that each individual has both male and female sex organs. As they are such a slow moving species, they cannot depend upon being able to catch up with a mate to reproduce!

During the PADI Nudibranch speciality course here at Rainbow divers, you’ll learn many more interesting and super cool facts about nudibranch as well as how to identify different families and species of nudibranch, where different species live, how they feed, reproduce and how they defend themselves despite being so small. Our speciality program includes 2 dives where you’ll put the knowledge you have just learnt to the test by trying to find different species and identifying them correctly.

A great time to take the program is in conjunction with your next level of diving certification with us – that way you’ll also gain some additional dives with your instructor to hone your dive skills at the same time.
The PADI Nudibranch Specialty program also counts as one of your 5 speciality programs needed to obtain the Master Scuba Diver certification – the black belt of scuba diving!

Are you an underwater photographer? Take the nudibranch speciality and bring your camera along for the dives. Not only is this a great way to capture some incredible macro shots of Vietnam’s nudibranch but you can use your images to assist in identification when we get back!

If you want to be the diver that really understands nudibranch and the envy of your diving buddies sign up now at info@divevietnam.com

Dante Harker
Dante Harker
Dante Harker is a Master Scuba Diver Trainer who is a Social Media Consultant and novelist. Check out his travel website here

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