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Rice in a Snow Storm

Rice in a Snow Storm

Biology graduate student Kristen Whalen inspects a gorgonian (also known as a soft coral or sea fan) for a specialist nudibranch that feeds exclusively on this one species. The white, centimeter-long nudibranchs devour the corals, which contain noxious chemicals that scare off most other predators. Whalen is studying how these creatures can overcome the coral's bitter chemistry and even use if for their own defense. "When the seas are rough," she noted, finding the diminutive nudibranches is "like looking for a grain of rice in a snow storm."
(Photo by Ann Tarrant, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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