Chromodoris woodwardae from SE Australia

October 21, 2005
From: L. & D. Atkinson

Dear Bill,

On a recent boat dive with Pro Dive Nelson Bay we found a lot of these tiny nudibranchs that look a lot like Hypselodoris bennetti but not quite. We read you paper describing Chromodoris woodwardae, Chromodoris thompsoni, Hypselodoris bennetti and some other similar looking red spotted nudibranchs. We thought these might be Chromodoris woodwardae. Many of them were mating, they were all on the same type of sponge which would appear to be their food sponge. Can you confirm their identity? There didn't seem to be many messages regarding them on the Forum.

Locality: Horseshoe Reef, N.W. Little Island, offshore from Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia. Depth: 22 metres. Length: 10 to 15 mm. 15th October 2005. Rocky reef edged by sand and sponges. Photo: Leanne & David Atkinson

Leanne & David Atkinson

Atkinson, L. & D., 2005 (Oct 21) Chromodoris woodwardae from SE Australia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Leanne & David,
Yes this is C. woodwardae. If you look carefully at the red spots you will see a faint whitish ring around each one. This is a good way iof distinguishing it from C. thompsoni where the red spots are each arranged eccentrically on a light bluish spot. It is usually found on two very similar looking 'finger' sponges of the family Callyspongiidae, [Callyspongia sp., Chalinopsilla sp.] which can't be identified from photos. As you will see from the large eggs on the Fact Sheet, this species has direct development,  tiny juveniles hatching from the egg capsule as crawling young. This is why you often find them in large groups like this. They are probably all the offspring from one or a few egg masses laid on this sponge.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2005 (Oct 21). Comment on Chromodoris woodwardae from SE Australia by L. & D. Atkinson. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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