Trapania aurata from Vanuatu

December 12, 1999
From: Vinka Stenhouse

Note added 12 March 2008: This is possibly the recently named species Trapania vitta but it is hard to see colour pattern.

Dear Bill,

Here is another nudibranch from Espiritu Santo Is., Vanuatu, 1997. It was found on sponge at 2 metre depth. 8 mm long.

Yours sincerely,

Vinka Stenhouse.


Stenhouse, V., 1999 (Dec 12) Trapania aurata from Vanuatu. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Vinka,
This is Trapania aurata. A puzzling feature of species of Trapania is we don't know what they eat. Sometimes they are found in quite large numbers, usually on a sponge which would suggest they are sponge-feeders. However the shape of their radular teeth is quite unlike that of any other group of sponge feeders, and they are related to animals which feed on bryozoans.

This mystery is quite similar to the mystery surrounding the food of species of the Gastropteridae (Sagaminopteron, Siphopteron, Gastropteron). The are also commonly found on sponges but have radular teeth similar in shape to the related philinoid bubble-shells such as Philine.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Dec 12). Comment on Trapania aurata from Vanuatu by Vinka Stenhouse. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Trapania vitta

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