The solar-powered 'Ruffled Sea Slug'

December 5, 1999
From: Molly E. Hagan

I am looking for information concerning a species referred to as a "ruffled sea slug". I know that it has the unusual ability to apply the byproducts of plants to its body to grow. Is this just one kind of slug, or is it a branch?

Thank you for any information you might have.

Hagan, M.E., 1999 (Dec 5) The solar-powered 'Ruffled Sea Slug' . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Molly,
I guess the 'Ruffled Sea Slug' is Tridachia crispata, which is found in the Caribbean. It is quite similar in shape to species such as Elysia ornata to which it is closely related. Tridachia and Elysia are sacoglossans, a group of herbivorous sea slugs, which suck the cell contents from the algae they feed on. Some have developed the means to keep the photosynthetic plastids from the plant tissue alive in their bodies where they are able to photosynthesise and provide extra nutrients for the animal. There are a number of families of nudibranch sea slugs which do something similar, keeping whole one-celled plant alive in their bodies. Have a look at the page on Solar-powered sea slugs for further information, and be sure to look at the messages and answers below yours on this page.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

PS: Unfortunately I don't have a photo of Tridachia. If anyone out there can oblige I would be grateful.

Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Dec 5). Comment on The solar-powered 'Ruffled Sea Slug' by Molly E. Hagan. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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