Dolabella gigas? from South Africa

May 21, 2001
From: Valda Fraser

Dear Bill
I hope you have some ideas about this one! I found it on a sandy patch near some rocks. I look forward to hearing your opinion.
Locality: Park Rynie, south coast KwaZulu-Natal, SOUTH AFRICA, 25m
Date: April 2001
Size: 12cm
Valda Fraser

Fraser, V., 2001 (May 21) Dolabella gigas? from South Africa. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Valda,
This is an interesting find. It is clearly a species of the Sea Hare genus Dolabella but doesn't look at all like the common species Dolabella auricularia. I think it is probably Dolabella gigas, which to my knowledge has never been ilustrated alive. It is reported from the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and Reunion and I am pretty sure it has been reported from South Africa. Its shell and armed penis distinguish it from D. auricularia, but published accounts on its external features are rather contradictory. However the conical warts or 'tubercles' in your animal may be a characteristic feature.

The only way to be sure would be to get the shell out of a specimen and have a look at the penis. I have posted alongside Rang's (1828) original illustration of the shell [Plate 3, fig. 4].
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2001 (May 21). Comment on Dolabella gigas? from South Africa by Valda Fraser. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Dolabella gigas

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