Dendrodoris carbunculosa or what?

December 6, 2003
From: Tina Owens

Dear Dr. Rudman:
I live and dive on the Kona Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. On September 29th, I found a marvelous nudi that I assumed was a Dendrodoris tuberculosa. It was in about 10m depth of water and was probably 250mm long [upper photo]. Then about two weeks ago, a friend found what we assumed was a juvenile D. tuberculosa, from color, rhinophores and general bumpiness [middle photo]. - Found in 7m of water, about 40mm long. Then, last Sunday I found this creature [lower photo] which has really confused me. It was about 750mm long, found in 7m of water at a completely different dive site.

My friends thought it was a juvenile D. tuberculosa, since several of them have been found recently at that dive site However, I thought back to a message that D. Lundholm sent you (June 6, 2003) about a nudi that Sharon Williams found on the Kona Coast of Hawaii. You identified that animal as a juvenile D. carbunculosa. I think my mystery nudi could be a sub adult of that species because of the white spots with bumps on its back. The mantle edges seem to already be turning into the lumpy adult form.

The reason why I was confused is that, as far as I know, no one has ever found an adult D. carbunculosa in this area, yet S. Williams found a juvenile, and this may well be a juvenile, too. For the record, could you please identify all three photos?
Tina Owens

Oowens, T., 2003 (Dec 6) Dendrodoris carbunculosa or what?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Tina,
I think you have 3 different species here, which would explain your confusion. The upper one is definitely Dendrodoris carbunculosa. One good way to separate it from D. tuberculosa is that it has distinct white spots on the underside of the mantle. Both species have quite stiff bodies with fairly leathery mantles.

The animal in the middle photo could be the same as the one I tentatively identified from South Africa as D. carbunculosa [see Linda Penny's message]. It could also possibly be Hoplodoris, possibly Hoplodoris grandiflora but its a bit hard to make out whether the tubercles are simple and rounded.

The animal in the lower photo is definitely Dendrodoris albopurpura which is definitely a new record for Hawaii. It is much more elongate than D. carbunculosa and the body is much softer, the mantle much thinner, and definitely not stiff and rigid to touch.
Best wishes
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Dec 6). Comment on Dendrodoris carbunculosa or what? by Tina Owens. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

  1. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from French Polynesia
    From: Peter Brink, April 9, 2010
  2. Phyllidia mimic from sthn Queensland
    From: Gary Cobb, March 4, 2009
  3. Re: Phyllidia mimic from Indonesia
    From: Philibert Bidgrain, June 20, 2007
  4. Re: Phyllidia mimic from Indonesia
    From: Erwin Koehler, June 19, 2007
  5. Re: Phyllidia mimic from Indonesia
    From: Cory Pittman, June 19, 2007
  6. Phyllidia mimic from Indonesia
    From: Ken Tucker, June 18, 2007
  7. Dendrodoris carbunculosa detail from N. Sulawesi
    From: Linda Ianniello, November 26, 2005
  8. ID of the biggest nudibranch I ever found!
    From: Emmanuel Tardy, November 3, 2005
  9. Re: Dendrodoris carbunculosa with commensal shrimps
    From: Barbara Hanchard, August 10, 2005
  10. Dendrodoris carbunculosa with commensal shrimps
    From: Barbara Hanchard, August 5, 2005
  11. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Anilao, The Philippines
    From: Paul Osmond, May 17, 2005
  12. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Reunion Island
    From: Philibert Bidgrain, February 23, 2005
  13. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Hawaii
    From: Matthew Cummings, August 28, 2003
  14. Dendrodoris carbunculosa Nudi From Batam
    From: Alice Lee, July 7, 2003
  15. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Kona , Hawaii
    From: Richard Lundholm, June 6, 2003
  16. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Indonesia
    From: Takako Uno, March 15, 2003
  17. Dendrodoris from South Africa
    From: Linda Penny, September 10, 2002
  18. Dendrodoris carbunculosa? from the Seychelles
    From: Erwin Koehler, June 16, 2001
  19. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from East Pacific
    From: Clinton Bauder, September 1, 2000
  20. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Sulawesi
    From: Lindsay Warren, April 1, 2000
  21. A larger Dendrodoris carbunculosa
    From: Clay Carlson & Patty Jo Hoff , December 8, 1999
  22. re: Dendrodoris carbunculosa
    From: Yoshi Hirano, December 1, 1999
  23. Is this the largest nudibranch?
    From: Yoshi Hirano, November 30, 1999
  24. Dendrodoris tuberculosa & D. carbunculosa
    From: Bill Rudman, November 30, 1999
  25. Dendrodoris carbunculosa from Philippines
    From: Erwin Koehler, December 20, 1998

Show factsheet and all related messages