Umbraculum from Venezuela

August 5, 2006
From: Virginia Malpica

I own the dive shop Aquatic Adventures, in Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela and do a lot of teaching and diving in Mochima National Park. The creature I saw at a dive site we go to often and it is the first time I have seen it, although since I took this picture the end of June, it was spotted at a nearby site about a week later in a coral reef at about 35 feet. I assume it is some kind of sea hare.

I saw it in 23 feet of water over a sandy spot in the reef, close to a large sandy area( I wonder if it wandered to the reef area from the sand?) It was alone and I went back twice the same week and couldn't find it. It was a very vivid orange and was squarish about 8 inches long by 4 inches high and 4 inches wide. I can't find it on any web site, any ideas? Another diver took pictures and I could send more if it would help identification. Gina Malpica

Locality: Chimanita Island, Chimana Islands, 23 feet, Puerto La Cruz, Venezuela, Caribbean Sea, Late June, early July,2006 , Sandy part of Coral Reef. Length: 8 inches long, 4 inches tall. Photographer: Virginia Malpica.

Virginia Malpica

Malpica, V. M., 2006 (Aug 5) Umbraculum from Venezuela. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Gina,
This is a photo of a rather sad looking Umbraculum. Why I say sad is because it is lying upside down, a bit like a stranded sea turtle. The 'top' in your photos is really the sole of its foot. Have a look at the Fact Sheets on Umbraculum mediterraneum and U. umbraculum for more information on this animal. Your photo does give us a good view of the large gill these animals have, which is usually hidden beneath their flattened shell. You would expect its mouth to be up on the 'head' between the two tentacles, but in Umbraculum it is down on the sole of the foot.

In your 'side on' photo, the brown patch behind the tentacle is a sensory pit which is used for sensing chemicals in the water.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (Aug 5). Comment on Umbraculum from Venezuela by Virginia Malpica. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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