Aeolidia papillosa - mating

August 29, 2003
From: Richard Lord

Dear Bill:

On 2 August, 2003, crab potter Clive Brown brought me two Aeolidia papillosa from his crab pots off the south coast of Guernsey, English Channel. The dissimilar sized aeolids were nestled together. I put them in an aquarium and they separated. On 3 August shortly after 2200 I removed them from one aquarium and placed them in a smaller aquarium for photography. I placed a crustose coralline algae covered rock in the aquarium with them. The rock measured 6 x 5 x 2 inches. The larger aeolid 'explored' the rock by circling it several times. The smaller aeolid moved to a depression in the rock and settled in it. As the larger aeolid was 'exploring' the rock it bumped into the smaller aeolid several times. On each occasion the smaller aeolid flared its cerata (defensive mechanism?). On the third encounter the two aeolids settled together (head to tail) and at about 2230 they transfered gametes to each other simultaneously. This occurred in less than 30 seconds as, although I didn't time it, I was able to take only two photos of the event (because my flashes were slow to recharge.)

The two aeolids remained touching each other for 15 minutes but during this time the larger aeolid turned around. At this point I left them until the following day. No eggs had been laid in the aquarium by the time I returned them to the sea the following morning.
Richard Lord

Lord, R., 2003 (Aug 29) Aeolidia papillosa - mating. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Richard,
Thanks for these interesting observations. I have also included a close-up of the head to show the milky yellow bands around the rhinophores and cerata of these specimens. In fact the opaque white markings on the dorsum have a definite yellow tinge as well.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Aug 29). Comment on Aeolidia papillosa - mating by Richard Lord. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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