October 23, 2001
From: Beniamino Usai
Dear Dr Rudman
Do you know what the strange objects are that you can see on the sand in the attached photo by Guido Picchetti? The photo was taken in the south of Italy in shallow water. Those bubbles of mucus are large 3-7 centimeters and they are fixed to the sand by a strong filament. They are usually covered with sand grains. They are perhaps eggs of gasteropods?
firstname.lastname@example.orgUsai, B., 2001 (Oct 23) Are these eggs?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/5508
There are two possibilities. One they are the egg mass of a polychaete worm, or they are the egg mass of an opisthobranch bubble shell of the family Aglajiidae or Philinidae. The drawing on the right is of the egg masses of the philinid Philine auriformis from New Zealand [approx 20mm long]. Aglajid egg masses are usually more spherical, as in your photo. An example of an aglajid with an egg mass like in your photo would be the Indo-West Pacific species Philinopsis cyanea.
If it is a worm egg mass then the microscopic eggs will be scattered throughout the jelly. If they are the eggs of a bubble shell, then each egg will be enclosed in a thin capsule and all the capsules will be connected together by a short filament to form a string of eggs which are arranged in a spiral within the egg mass. If they grow to 7cm in length, they may be a bit large for an opisthobranch, so perhaps they are a worm egg mass.
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