by Nan Criqui                    

Color Me Deadly

Bright colors are used throughout the animal world to warn predators, animals that hunt and eat other animals, that an animal either tastes bad or is poisonous.

"Don't eat me, or you will be sorry!" these bold tones seem to say.

Sometimes animals that are not poisonous or bad-tasting take advantage of this and display bright colors too, relying on the colors to trick their enemies. Nudibranchs do all these things: some are poisonous, some store poisons from what they eat, some taste bad, and some are just pretending. Do you think a smart fish would risk taking a bite of a colorful nudibranch to find out which is which?

Bright colors
say, "Look
out for me!"

The bodies of nudibranchs are covered with brightly colored extensions; they are used for breathing, excretion, and defense. This is also where the stinging cells or poisons from digested prey are stored.