July 5, 2002
From: Nestor E. Ardila E.
Dear Dr. Rudman:
I' ve been working the last five years in mollusks from the upper slope (200-500m) and continental shelf in the Colombian Caribbean. At present I am working some specimens of opistobranchia. Could you help me with the ID of this specimen of Aplysia sp. This specimen was collected with a bottom trawl to 150m. The total length: 50 mm and the shell length: 17mm.
Ardila, N.E., 2002 (Jul 5) Aplysia sp. from the Colombian Caribbean. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7411
I wish I could help but I suspect it is an impossible task at present. Marcus (1972) reviewed the Caribbean anaspideans and reported eight species of Aplysia from the region, all of which could occur I Colombian waters. While it should be possible to distinguish A. dactylomela, A. juliana and A. parvula from preserved animals, because of distinctive anatomical and colour characters, I doubt if there is any easy way to distinguish the others from preserved specimens. I am afraid out knowledge is just not good enough. Many species have been described from mishapen, decolourised preserved specimens, and even those described from live animals seldom give us enough information on variability of colour, radular morphology and shell shape, to be able to identify a species froom a preserved animal. I am sorry, but until we know the living fauna of a geographic region well, there is no way we are going to be able to identify preserved specimens sensibly.
From correspondence on the Forum there are clearly workers in Florida who are familiar with their local Sea Hares, but I don't know if there are other species elsewhere in the Caribbean. If anyone can fill in some gaps, their contributions would be very welcome.
• Marcus, Ev. (1972) On the Anaspidea (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) of the warm waters of the western Atlantic. Bull. Mar. Sci., 22(4): 841-874.
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