Dolabella gigas ? from Reunion Island

June 13, 2007
From: Hugues Flodrops

Dear Bill,
I took these pictures in Etang-Salé. I think it is a sea hare, my best guess is Dolabella auricularia but I'm not sure.

Locality: Rocky coast Etang-Salé, 1 metre, Reunion Island, Indian Ocean, 16 january 2007. Length: 120 mm. Photographer: Hugues Flodrops.

It was quite large posterior at about 60 mm. Thank you again for your forum.

Flodrops,H., 2007 (Jun 13) Dolabella gigas ? from Reunion Island. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Hugues,
This could be an interesting find. Dolabella auricularia is known throughout the Indo-West Pacific but there is a possible second species Dolabella gigas, from the western Indian Ocean. Although some workers have identified animals as D. gigas, all we really know about it is the shape of the shell. I have posted photos on the Forum of the shell of D. gigas from Reunion Island [see Fact Sheet ] from the Australian Museum's collections, and for comparison, photos of the shell of D. auricularia, also from Reunion Island. I have posted a few photos on the Forum of animals which I have tentatively identified as D. gigas, because of the relatively solid tubercles on the body, which also seem to be present on your animal. 

At this stage, I think the only way we are going to be sure is if someone in the western Indian Ocean, photographs, then sacrifices an animal or two and removes its shell. That is the only way we will ever be abe to match the strange shell of D. gigas with the colour and shape of living animals.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Jun 13). Comment on Dolabella gigas ? from Reunion Island by Hugues Flodrops. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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