December 20, 2023 – A team of Portuguese researchers has discovered new species of colorful sea mollusks off the north coast of Timor-Leste. These small sea slugs, many meticulously patterned and vibrant, are mostly around one centimeter in length. Despite their size, they are skilled in camouflage and possess defensive mechanisms against predators.

These sea slugs are being studied for their toxic substances, which scientists believe could be used in the development of new medications. The expedition, including researchers from MARE, spent two weeks on the north coast of Timor-Leste and identified 130 different species of nudibranchs, of which about 30 are potentially new to science.

So far, there have been few studies on the marine biodiversity of Timor-Leste, although Ataúro Island has been recognized as one of the world’s most diverse locations for fish species. The discoveries now need to be described and published in scientific journals.