Ceratosoma miamiranum from North Sulawesi

September 4, 2007
From: Sebastian Ferse


Hello Bill!
Here is another Ceratosoma miamiranum from North Sulawesi, Indonesia. In its shape it looks similar to the ones observed by Jim Anderson from West Papua and by Ahmad Zaki from Lembeh Strait (around the corner from where this one was observed), but its color is changed to perfectly match its surroundings, a brown Montipora coral and a green sponge. I wonder whether an individual is undergoing these color changes during its lifetime to match its surroundings? The reddish-brown individual from Lembeh Strait seems to point to this.

Locality: Muka Kampung, Gangga Island, 6 metres, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, Pacific Ocean, 23 June 2007, Shallow reef top with distinct coral/sponge community. Length: 10 cm. Photographer: Sebastian Ferse.

Sebastian Ferse

sebastian.ferse@zmt-bremen.de

Ferse, S.C.A., 2007 (Sep 4) Ceratosoma miamiranum from North Sulawesi. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/20603

Dear Sebastian,
The wide colour variability in this species and the way it helps the animal blend into its background certainly suggests it has an ability to change colour, but I dont know of any studies on this. There are certainly other chromodorids which march the colour of their backgrouns - usually their food - very closely, such as Verconia verconis and some forms of Noumea haliclona, but in those cases the colour forms seemed to be genetically determined so you will find a yellow animal on a pink sponge and vice versa. even though when they are on their correctly coloured sponge they are almost invisible. There are also opisthobranchs that incorporate pigments and other elements from their food and so match the colour of their prey very well [see Colour Fact Sheet] but in the case of C. miamiranum I am not sure how it would do so because it would mean the sponge it feeds would also need to change colour to match the background colour as well. I guess that's not totally impossible, but it is starting to get a bit complicated. What we really need to find out is just what sponge C. miamiranum feeds on.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Sep 4). Comment on Ceratosoma miamiranum from North Sulawesi by Sebastian Ferse. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/20603

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