An extremely rare multi-coloured sea slug has been spotted in British waters for the first time.

The multi-coloured sea slug, Babakina anadoni, measures just 2cm in length and was confirmed as a first sighting by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust.

It was spotted off the Isles of Scilly by Allen Murray, a volunteer diver taking part in the Wildlife Trusts Seasearch initiative, where citizen scientists are asked to dive and record the wildlife around the coast.

The snail is usually found in warmer climes. It is very rare and has only been recorded a handful of times along the west coast of Spain and further south in the Atlantic.

Matt Slater, marine conservation officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Coordinator of the Seasearch programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “What an incredible find! We were extremely excited to hear about the sighting of this colourful nudibranch – a species that we believe has never been recorded in the UK before.

“It’s one of the prettiest sea slugs I’ve seen and, given its less than half the size of your little finger, it’s amazing Allen spotted it at all! There’s still so much out there that we don’t know about our marine environment. Records like this from our Seasearch divers are vital in helping us understand and better protect our seas.”

Seaslugs, technically called nudibranchs, are similar to their land-based cousins but are much more colourful and interestingly shaped. They feed on seaweed, anemones and other sea slugs.

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Lucy McRobert, communications manager at Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust, added: “We never cease to be amazed at the wildlife turning up in Scillonian waters. From rare and beautiful nudibranchs to violet sea snails to great whales like humpbacks and fins, every time we dive beneath the surface we learn and see something new!”

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