Aeolidia papillosa feeding

September 30, 1999
From: Andy Horton

Hello Bill,

Aeolidia papillosa is known as the Grey Sea Slug in England (from the popular books).

I thought the visitors to the site would like to see a photograph of the nudibranch actually trying to eat a sea anemone. The prey is a green Beadlet Anemone, Actinia equina. It did not pursue its attempt. The anemone will usually close its tentacles when attacked. When given a choice of sea anemones in an aquarium it seemed to prefer smaller anemones of the species Metridium senile and Sagartia troglodytes. Both the predator and prey were from the Sussex coast, England, (English Channel. It was not succesful at tackling the Snakelocks Anemone, Anemonia viridis. Specimens (about 200 examples) from the Sussex coast do not exceed 50 mm in length very often, the maximum size only 60 mm. However, on the Dorset coast (English Channel) they attain 120 mm.

I noticed the spawn looked different from the other photographs. The spawn illustration was photographed in the wild. Even when making allowances for differences between individuals, the spawn still looks slightly different.
Any comments appreciated.

Andy Horton

Horton, A., 1999 (Sep 30) Aeolidia papillosa feeding. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Thanks Andy,
We're building quite a bit of information on Aeolidia papillosa. I must say 'Grey Sea Slug' is a pretty boring name for such an interesting animal.

Concerning your eggmass photo. It does look a bit more tightly packed than the earlier photos but that seems to be the normal sort of variation you find in nudibranchs. The most characteristic feature of the egg mass seems to be how the ribbon is constricted into partitions, a bit like a string of sausages. Such an egg mass is not exclusive to this species, but it is not found in all aeolids.
Thanks for your enthusiastic participation,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Sep 30). Comment on Aeolidia papillosa feeding by Andy Horton. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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