Flabellina cynara
(Marcus and Marcus, 1967)

Family: Flabellinidae


Pacific coast of Central America


Playa Mismaloya (Bahia de Banderas), Mexico, 40 feet, 7mm long. Photos: Alicia Hermosillo

This species is commonly called the 'Swimming Cynara', and to quote Hans Bertsch:
"Most memorable is the swimming behavior of Flabellina cynara, which was so brilliantly illustrated by Wesley Farmer in his 1970 paper, "Swimming Gastropods (Opisthobranchia and Prosobranchia)" (The Veliger, 13: 80-83). The slug uses back-and-forth strokes of its whiplike cerata to propel itself through the water. The cerata gently curl forward in a loosely coordinated flowing movement, pause, and then whip backwards in a simultaneous power wave. The rearward flipping of the cerata is the propulsive stroke. Swimming up into the water column may allow the animal to hitch a ride on the water currents, aiding its escape from a predator or its search for prey or a mate".

Its body is deep pink with white spots. The long, thin cerata, are a translucent salmon-orange, with white speckling. They have a subterminal purple ring and a creamy white tip. The border of the foot has a rich purple marginal line. The translucent cephalic tentacles have a distal purple blotch. The the basal half of the lamellate rhinophores pinkish, and the upper half are creamy white with a subterminal purple band. Maximum body length between 40-50 mm.

See message #15281 for unspotted colour form.

  • Marcus, Er, & Marcus, Ev. (1967) American opisthobranch mollusks. Part 2, Opisthobranchs from the Gulf of California. Studies Tropical Oceanography, Miami, 6(1-2): 141-256. (Figs 1-95)
Authorship details
Hermosillo, A., 2002 (March 30) Flabellina cynara (Marcus and Marcus, 1967). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/flabcyna

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