Sunday, 28 August 2016

Sluggy McSlugface no more: sea slug named for fly-in, fly-out mining workers

Multicoloured slug, a species of nudibranch, was discovered in 2000 off the Western Australian coast and will be officially named Moridilla fifo

Monday 22 August 201605.51 BSTLast modified on Monday 22 August 201606.15 BST

A multicoloured sea slug discovered off the coast of Western Australia has been named for the state’s fly-in, fly-out mining workforce after a judging panel ruled that Sluggy McSlugface breached the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature.

The slug, which is a species of nudibranch, was discovered in 2000 off the coast of Dampier, about 1,500km north of Perth, by the WA scientist Dr Nerida Wilson.

Wilson will apply for it to be officially named Moridilla fifo after a public competition to name the nudibranch received more than 4,500 entries.

A significant number of those entries suggested either Sluggy McSlugface or Nudie McNudeface, but Dr Amber Beavis, who was on the judging panel, said that breached international rules against “frivolous” scientific names, as well as a few other regulations.

 “Sluggy McSlugface – there’s no way to Latinise that,” Beavis said. “You can do the ‘sluggy’ bit but to get the spirit of that would be impossible.”

Beavis said Moridilla fifo was the clear winner after Patrick Dwyer made a compelling argument likening the nudibranch’s toxic secretions to the transient workforce.

The logic, as explained by Dwyer, is that nudibranches eat jellyfish and other animals with stingers and then secrete those same toxins out of its cerata, the blue and orange sausage-shaped appendages that line its back, as a form of self-defence. Fly-in fly-out (fifo) workers, Dwyer told Radio National, were similarly “an important resource also brought in from elsewhere”.

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