May 21, 2007
From: Guido Zsilavecz
Concerning message #16412:
Good day Bill!
Attached are a few photos of Lecithophorus capensis. Lengths up to 20 mm, often smaller. Seen around the Cape Peninsula, in depths from 2m down to 30m and deeper. They are quite common, and are generally found on well-grown over vertical reefs.
Locality: Cape Peninsula, 2 to 30m, South Africa, Atlantic, Vertical reef walls. Length: 20mm. Photographer: Guido Zsilavecz.
firstname.lastname@example.orgZsilavecz, G., 2007 (May 21) Lecithophorus capensis from South Africa. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/16472
It's taken me a while to get the Fact Sheet organised, but these photos are very welcome. Apart from being a new addition to the Forum they show a couple of interesting things. Firstly, in the photo of the mating pair, the gills look quite different in shape to the branching gills of the animal in the middle photo, but the difference is because the gills in the lower photo are contracted. Lecithophorus belongs to the half of the dorid nudibranchs which do not have a pocket into which their gills can be retracted when the animals are disturbed. All they can do to protect them is to make them as small as possible until the danger passes.
The other point of interest is that Macnae, when he described this species, suggested that they probably ate colonial ascidians, but Terry Gosliner reports them feeding on erect bryozoans. In the mating photo the animals are on an orange encrusting bryozoan. In the background, part of the colony is just the white skeleton suggesting the orange animal has been eaten. In the middle photo it also seems the animal is on a bryozoan colony with orange and white patches, suggesting exactly the same situation.