Nembrotha megalocera from the Red Sea

August 4, 2000
From: Mary Jane Adams

Hi Bill,
Here are some pictures of Nembrotha megalocera that I shot on Protector Reef in the Red Sea off Sudan on May 12, 1995. This beautiful slug was crawling rapidly across the bottom. When it came to the yellow coral it stopped and began to feed on the polyps. At the time I thought it was eating the polyps, but from what I have learned on the Forum, it may have been slurping up flatworms from them. It reared up frequently while it was feeding, perhaps as an attack posture or in reaction to polyp stings? The polyps reacted by retracting in the area where it was feeding.
Depth: 8 meters
Crawling length: 45 mm
Mary Jane

Dear Mary Jane,
Thanks for the great photos. Your observations on what it did when it got to the coral colony are interesting because species of Nembrotha are supposed to feed on ascidians. It is possible that your animal, crawling along, just ran into an obstacle that it found too difficult to crawl over. The region around the mouth, and its oral tentacles, are brimming with nerve endings, for this is how it learns about its close environment. Without sight, it can only find out how big an obstacle in its path is by feeling around with its mouth and oral tentacles. Eventually, I would assume, it would give up these feeling, rather than feeding movements, and try moving in another direction, in attempt to avoid the obstacle, in this case a coral colony.

Alternatively you could be quite right, which would be a very exciting discovery.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Aug 4). Comment on Nembrotha megalocera from the Red Sea by Mary Jane Adams. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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