In the morning of the Saturday, January 19th, Andrea Dec, Michael Macdonald, Reg Wilson and I, gather at the Peirce Island, New Hampshire, for a high tide underwater exploration at the Doggy Park dive-site.

Rock Sculpture point - Periwinkle Cove
Pierce Island, New Hampshire.

At this time of the year, from the end of December until March, this place is known for the population explosion of one particular nudibranch – Flabellina verrilli. At high tide, at the depth about 30-40 feet, along with other sea slugs, one can find quite large members of this gorgeous mollusk. It resembles Flabellina verrucosa, but Verrilli, in my humble opinion, is much prettier than its counterpart.

Flabellina verrilli

Flabellina verrucosa

It has a wider, broader foot (body), bluish tinge, at the base of its numerous cerates, larger, corrugated rhinophores and longer oral tentacles. To be silly 😉 one may say that it is F. verrucosa on steroids.

Flabellina verrilli

By the way, if I am not mistaken, during this dive, we also saw Flabellina gracilis, but this one is an anorectic in comparison to verrilli.


Anyway, due to ongoing Peirce Island Wastewater facility upgrade project, we had to make a few trips from the parking lot to the dive-site. A bit of an inconvenience, but if you arrive earlier, with an hour to spare, then a few 4-5 minutes unhurried walks, each way, won’t spoil the experience.

Bushy-backed nudibranch (Dendronotus frondosus)

And that’s what we did. We entered the water at about 10:30 am and began exploring the site. At first, I wanted to follow Michael Macdonald and finally get to the Wall. But with a bulky camera setup and pushing current, I indicated to Michael that I am turning around, and I went back to the hydroid fields, where usually we see lots of verrillis.

Tubularian hydroid (Ectopleura crocea)

Despite spectacular visibility, about 30-40 feet, I’ve managed to get lost and, instead of a field of Tubularia hydroids, ended up hovering above the field of tiny mussels. But right there, on the stalk of a hydroid, I spotted Catriona gymnota, the nudibranch that in all my years of local diving, I’ve seen only a few times.

Catriona gymnota

Thus, you can imagine my excitement and number of pictures depicted C. gymnota. When I satisfy my “appetite”, I looked to see if Mike, Andrea or Reg were near me, so I could share my finding with them. I saw no divers and a few minutes later decided to get shallower, ascending from 40 to 30 feet. Still no one around. Hence, I resurfaced and spotted Andrea’s flag.

Northern Cerianthid (Cerianthus borealis)

10-15 minutes later I saw camera flashes and then all 3 divers, slowly climbing back to the shore. Before we came out, we spotted huge, white Bushy-backed nudibranch and Flabellina verrucosa.

Bushy-backed nudibranch (Dendronotus frondosus)

Before I continue with the dive, I’d like to say that while I was writing this report, I checked the names of nudis and stumbled on the article, indicated name change for the Dendronotus frondosus, claiming that these days it is known as a Dendronotus venustus. I checked WoRMS and Catalogue of Life websites, finding … that both names are excepted. Additionally, Google search returns plenty of similarly looking nudibranch for both names.

2019.01.22. As of today, the following was determined.; Dendronotus venustus is a specie of a Dendronotids that lives on the Pacific coast, and should not be mixed up with its Europian counterpart Dendronotus frondosus. (More info from the iNaturalist website)

Hairy spiny doris (Acanthodoris pilosa)

Anyhow, we took a few more shots and came out of the water. Forty-fifty minutes later we reunited at the 5 Thai Bistro, off-gassing using Singha beer and warming ourselves up with a scrumptious meal.

Sand shrimp (Crangon septemspinosa)

Later, Andrea and I drove to the Rock Sculpture point – Periwinkle Cove and took a few shots of some elaborate “Inuksuit” (plural from inuksuk  ).

Rock Sculpture point – Periwinkle Cove (Rye, NH)

And that’s that. I want to express my gratitude to Andrea, Michael, and Reg for a delightful company, you, guys, made this dive a cheerful and an interesting one.

Awesome new discoveries and safe diving to all.