Colourful. Diverse. Flamboyant. Meet the remarkable sea slug

 
 
 

The ocean is vast. Which makes it easy to overlook the humble sea slug. They don’t have exuberant or endearing personalities like dolphins, nor do they possess the otherworldly appeal of starfish. Unlike sharks, we don’t regard them with fearful awe. And compared to whales, they’re miniscule, insignificant. But sea slugs are downright fascinating in their own right. They look nothing at all like their land counterpart, instead resembling highly-saturated Pokemon. In her search to explore the overlooked wonders of the sea, Evania Snyman has found 15 as-yet unidentified sea slugs.

Born and raised in Roodepoort, Snyman grew up without access to the ocean. But that didn’t lessen her fascination with it. At the age of 19, she moved to Port Elizabeth to study Marine Biology, but became particularly interested in physically exploring the ocean rather than just studying it from afar. In 2004, she qualified as an Open Water Instructor, allowing her to work as a scuba diver and teach diving to others. She added a skipper’s license to her qualifications in 2010. Her work has enabled her to explore the reefs and the sea animals that live in them.

Since 2007, she has been on a voyage of discovery. In the waters of Port Elizabeth alone, she has seen and photographed over 50 species of nudibranchs, the scientific term for sea slugs. Of the types she has documented, 15 are yet to be recognised by scientists. Snyman has created a website to display her photos and to allow others to contribute to identifying different sea slugs. While still in the process of completing her studies, she’s investing every moment she has free to discover and document these unusual creatures. Her curiosity is contributing to building up our understanding of the biodiversity of our oceans.