Spurilla major from Turkey

March 6, 2008
From: tom turk

Dear Bill,

I am sending you several photos of five sea slug species photographed along the coast of Turkey near the town of Kas. I believe that at least three species are actually Indopacific (lesepsian immigrants ) in the Mediterranean Sea. I have tentatively identified three of them, for the other two I have no idea. I appreciate your help in this matter.

Locality: Kas, 25 m, Turkey, Mediterranean, end of October 2007, wreck on sandy bottom near sea anemone Alicia mirabilis. Length: 4 cm. Photographer: borut furlan.

Best regards,
Tom Turk


Turk, T., 2008 (Mar 6) Spurilla major from Turkey. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21174

Dear Tom,

This is a member of the Aeolidiidae so its closeness to a sea anemone could suggest it was looking for food. I am pretty sure this is the Indo-West Pacific species Spurilla major. It probably keeps zooxanthellae alive in its body so it usually has a dark brown background colour and duller colour pattern on its skin but Eliot did describe a bright colour variety as 'var ornata'. I suspect your animal is this bright colour form and far from it being a colour variant I suspect it is a result of the brown zooxanthellae normally found in the branching digestive gland throughout the body wall being absent. If you look at the close-up alongside, you can see in the ceras just behind the rhinophores a dull brown duct with short branches. That is the digestive gland and I suspect the shortened side branches indicates the animal has not fed on sea anemones with appropriate zooxanthellae for a while. You get a similar change in colour in Spurilla australis - see Fact Sheet.

I presume this is one of the species you though might be a lessepsisan migrant from the Indian Ocean. If so, I fully agree.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2008 (Mar 6). Comment on Spurilla major from Turkey by tom turk. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21174


Spurilla major

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