Dolabrifera dolabrifera - Dissection diagram for ink gland?

June 17, 2006
From: Kathryn Clark

Dear Bill,
I am a masters student studying the marine chemical ecology of Dolabrifera dolabrifera and cyanobacteria. I was wondering if you had a detailed diagram of where I could find its mucus/ink gland. I have observed the animals produce a white ink when disturbed and I would like to separate out the gland for chemical analysis. In past dissections, I have separated the animals by skin/parapodia/head, digestive gland and other body organs.

Locality: Coiba Island, Panama, Pacific, 29 May 2006, Intertidal, rocky. Length: 40 - 60 mm

Also if you know of anyone who studies the chemistry of Dolabrifera dolabrifera could you let me know. I have only found one paper on its chemistry

  • Ciavatta M.L et al. (1996) Dolabriferol: A New Polypropionate from the skin of the Anaspidean Mollusc Dolabrifera dolabrifera. Tetrahedron, Vol. 52, No. 39, pp. 12831 - 12838.

Kathryn Clark

Clark, K., 2006 (Jun 17) Dolabrifera dolabrifera - Dissection diagram for ink gland?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Kathryn,
If you go to the General Topics List you will find a whole section on Sea Hares which includes pages on Ink Glands, references, the mantle cavity, and a link to a drawing of the mantle cavity of Stylocheilus showing the position of the opaline and purple glands.

Unfortunately the mantle cavity is a bit more squashed up in Dolabrifera but the basic 'geography' is the same. Unfortunately, dissecting 'fresh' molluscs is difficult because mucus is secreted from almost everywhere. There are references to work on the gland secretions of other aplysiids which should be applicable to Dolabrifera.

Good Luck,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (Jun 17). Comment on Dolabrifera dolabrifera - Dissection diagram for ink gland? by Kathryn Clark. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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