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Levent CAVAS - Ebru ERERIS - Dominique HORST


There are some beauties the glamor of which is never known. No mortal eye can ever percieve those beauties. Lucky s/he is who is able to see those precious beauties. What an ordinary mind recognizes any familiar entity as the beautiful is relativistic: it is blond, sometimes, brown or fair another time. One cannot precisely guess what and where her/his ideal beauty is. It depends on the seer’s perspective. However, the absolute beauty, as its connotation suggests, absolutely beautiful, perfect, noble, and certainly hidden in the bosom of mother nature.

Sea slug is only one group of such absolute beauties that the underwater world releases for mankind to see. The nature itself is a magical source of inspiration for fashion designing. Although those poor creatures belong to a lower degree of systematic group than human beings from the evolutionary point of view, it is obvious that those creatures are good models for fashion designing and creativity. Ascending into the depth of the sea, every diver gets struck by the beauty sea slugs exhibit. This essay aims at visualizing the feelings and experiences of the divers who have dived and witnessed the beauties of the sea slugs.

What is a Sea slug?

Sea slug is the name of the subgroup, Opisthobranchia (Milne-Edwards, 1848), of the Gastropodes, or suborder Nudibranchia of Opisthobranchia. It is a well-developed group of the Gastropodes. Generally, there is no specific distinction between head and mantle of this species. The tentacles around the mouth provide the sea slug to navigate its destination. The lower-middle part of its body puts the whole creature into motion. The side parts at the bottom of some kinds of sea slugs have been evolutionized to let the sea slug swim. Most sea slugs have wonderful colors. The meanings of these colors are, in fact, warning messages that are sent to predators to keep them away. They have lost their shells during the evolution. So, they have developed a different type of defence mechanism: camouflage and warning. Some kinds that are not poisonous can camouflage themselves from their predators whereas some others defend themselves via the poisonous secondary metabolites that their bodies produce. Their colors reveal how poisonous their secondary metabolites are. Morphologically, sea slugs have tentacles on their bodies. They are sensitive sensors for touching, tasting, and smelling. Moreover, sea slugs are hermaphrodites and leave their eggs in a gelatinous spiral on various substrates under water. They are usually carnivorous creatures: they eat sponges, hydroids, bryozoans, and even their identicals in some cases. Their length is between 4 mm. and 600 mm. They live in all seas and at all depths. They are the longest when they are at hot and shallow waters. The most beautiful ones belong to the Chromodorids (Wikipedia, 2006). There are few researchs on the Nudibranchias and these studies usually cover shell samples and living species. The literature states that there are about 69 sea slug species around Turkish coastlines (Yokeş and Rudman, 2004).

The Diary of the Design Process:

September 15, 2006 – Konak, Izmir

We are in a luxurious store in Konak, Izmir. My wife is upset. She does not like any dress she tries. I do not know why. Whatever she tries is faulty, according to her. I am about to go crazy. I should thank her, for I have inspected all the pieces on the shelves. I must confess that my wife, Çağın, is right not to like any of the dresses. To me, they are so simple and ordinary that no one on earth likes them, I believe.

September 17, 2006 – Gümüldür, Izmir

This time, I must analyse the bottom of the sea more carefully. It is still hot in Gümüldür. I have unbearable desire to study the ground and finish my report on Caulerpa racemosa var.cylindracea, the terrorist marine alga, in other words, as common people in Turkey call it, particularly. I do not want to spend any more time. I am descending from 5 m to 18 m. Now I am gazing at the Caulerpa racemosa. I have never been so close ever before. I am detecting those gorgeous Flabellina affinis, Donduce bonyulensis and Cratena peregrina species among green Caulerpa fields. I cannot believe my eyes, for they seem to send me a message. I start to focus and concentrate myself on these wonderful creatures. I cannot keep my eyes away, I do not know why. I am getting amazed staring at these beautiful living creature for nearly 10 minutes. I am trying to take photos of them as much as I can. Now I am ready to ascend with my buddy, diving instructor Hakan Taşlıçay, after measuring and collecting some Caulerpa. My buddy says that there are more sea slug species in the area than what we observed. When I come to the sea surface, I remember the toxic secretion of the Caulerpa racemosa, i.e. the caulerpenyne. Whenever I recall that this toxic compound would be extremely mortal for sea slugs, I start getting upset and anxious.

Having come home lately, I am reviewing the activities of the past two days. On the first day was the visit to the luxurious store that exhibited its costumes composed of designs made by human beings. But the exhibition under the water on the following day was undoubtedly uncomparable with any other exhibition on earth, for this time the designer was the Nature, the great master, exhibiting her offsprings: the sea slugs.

September 22, 2006 – Kültürpark, Izmir

I am running for a better physical condition because I am a player of an underwater rugby team. Ebru Ereriş, my teammate, looks very upset. She is a student at Yüzüncü Yıl Vocational School, the department of Fashion Designing. When I ask her why she is about to shed tears because of her sorrow, she tells me that her teacher wants her to make drawings for painting course, and that she is still unable to be inspired for the required assignment. All of a sudden, I feel deep inside myself the same unbearable desire to demonstrate Ebru the exhibition those sea slugs by the Nature. Hence, to tell you the truth, we already need to train in a more concentrated water, the sea, than the pool to make apnea dives.

September 23, 2006 – Gümüldür, Izmir

We are in Gümüldür again with Ebru and some other friends. The sea slugs are still there, awating for us impatiently to present their magical performance. Ebru is extremely attracted by their show. She is smiling now. She tells me that she will start the designs as soon as she goes back home. I recommend her a website (www.sea in which she can receive any information on sea slugs both in our seas and in international seas and oceans.

September 30, 2006 – Alsancak, Izmir

I had an SMS from Ebru after a week. She wrote to me that the designs were ready and she wanted to show them to me. When I saw the outline, I was charmed by their irresistible grace. I felt as if we fulfilled what the slugs wished us to do in their silent -speechless, so to speak- messages through their breathtaking beauties. We had to share what we had. We knew that our society comprised many “insensitive” people recalling nothing in their imagination when they were asked what sea slug meant.

December, 2006

We have contacted with Mr Dominique HORST. He sent us his beautiful seaslug photos to prepare a web page. We are greatful to him for his this nice help. Without his permission, we could not have created these designs and this web page.

It is now our holy mission to introduce people such a wonderful creature having a wide range of marvellous costumes. Why do these unique costumes not be inspirational samples for ladies who would like to put something exciting and attracting on themselves? They are much better designs than those of human beings. As we said before, they are perfect, concealed in the bosom of mother nature. We are happy to discover such an untouched beauty.

It should be remembered that there is an ever-increasing pollution in the seas. The diversity of flora and fauna in the seas is diminishing day by day. Domestic and industrial waste being released to the sea without refining is a great threat for the ecosystem. Ship crash resulting in oil leak is another evil, a nightmare, to collapse the natural balance. Sea slugs are obviously fragile living creatures when exposed to pollution. We are lucky since we have managed to see the mystifying and amazing beauties of sea slugs. We think that whoever is inspired by the nature designs and produces more natural works of art, and whoever wears a dress designed and tailored through imitating the authenticity of sea slugs is more sensitive on environmental issues. Therefore, each creation, each design, is named after its inspiring species. Each species, in a sense, is a trademark under the water with its own color imagery and structural pattern and motif. Sometimes, one species resembles one another like a relation between a brother and a sister, or a mother’s passionate embrace of his son or daughter, and sometimes some species depict different features in their designs as if they come from million-light-year-away galaxies or they are children of different civilizations that are temporally apart from one another for centuries. We have now more than 50 designs. The followings are chosen for your appreciation.

This was our dream to write down such an essay including the man-made designs imitating those of the “mother nature”. We would like to thank you for participating in our dream. Now, the first part of our dream is over. What comes is the second part, to put our dream into practice. We need valuable support of the fashion houses to tailor those designs.


  1. Yokes B., Rudman W.B., (2004). Türkiye sularında tespit edilen Aelodiina (Opisthobranchia, Gastropoda) türleri: Türkiye için 11 yeni kayıt. Sualtı Bilim ve Teknolojisi Toplantısı Kitapçığı, Sabancı Üniversitesi, 26-28 Kasım 2004, syf 60-68.
  2. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (2006). Nudibranch. retrieval date. 19.12.2006
  3. Drudi E., Paci T., (2001). Figure Drawing for fashion design. The pepin press. Amsterdam.
  4. Cavas L., Yurdakoc K., Yokes B. (2005). Antioxidant status Lobiger serradifalci and Oxynoe olivacea (Opisthobranchia, Mollusca). J Exp Mar Bio Eco. 314, 227-235
  5. Cavas L., Yurdakoc K., (2005). A comparative study: Assesment of antioxidant system in the invasive green alga Caulerpa racemosa and some macrophytes from the Mediterranean. J Exp Mar Bio Eco. 321, 35-41.
  6. Cavas L., Yurdakoc K., (2005).An investigation on the antioxidant status of the invasive marina alga: Caulerpa racemosa. J.Exp.Mar.Biol.Eco., 325, 189-200.
  7. Cavas L., Baskin Y., Yurdakoc K., Olgun N. (2006) Antiproliferative and newly attributed apoptotic effects from an invasive marine alga: Caulerpa racemosa var.cylindracea. J.Exp.Mar.Biol.Eco. 339, 111-119.

Ebru ERERIS - Levent CAVAS - Dominique HORST

Contact Address: Levent CAVAS, tel:+90 232 4128701, mobile: +90 546 2176563

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