Phyllidia? from Jervis Bay, Australia

March 24, 2001
From: David Harasti

Hi Bill,
This phyllidiid species was found at Jervis Bay, Southern NSW, Australia at a site called Long Cave. The water temp was about 24 degrees and the animal (about 5cms long) was found in 13 metres.

This is the furthest south that I have seen a Phyllidia species. I thought they were restricted to tropical waters. I know it's hard to identify without a specimen but I thought you would find this discovery interesting.

Harasti, D., 2001 (Mar 24) Phyllidia? from Jervis Bay, Australia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear David,
The ubiquitous Phyllidiella pustulosa is the only phyllidiid we find with any regularity in mid to southern New South Wales. I have records of it from Sydney, but your find from Jervis Bay probably extends its known distribution that much further down the east Australian coast. Interestingly this colour pattern, in which the black background is reduced to a thin black reticulation, is the usual colour form in these southerly specimens.

I see the water temp was fairly warm. As I have said elsewhere in the Forum, the New South Wales coast is an interesting mixture of temperate and tropical animals, with a fairly large group of endemic species, found only in this part of southeastern Australia. Phyllidiella pustulosa, and other tropical species, are usually not permanent members of the southern NSW fauna, but in years when south-drifting eddies of warm tropical water, laden with tropical larvae, are pushed close to shore, there is a good chance that some larval sea slugs will find a place to settle. Considering that their preferred food probably also drifted south from the tropics as larvae, successful settlement requires a lot of luck.

Thanks for letting us know of this find. It is very interesting.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2001 (Mar 24). Comment on Phyllidia? from Jervis Bay, Australia by David Harasti. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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