Opisthobranch? from Mediterranean

July 22, 2002
From: Jean-Pierre Bielecki

Hi Bill,
Last week we organized with other “bio diving instructors” a Sea slugs course with a scientist who is director of the museum history natural of Le Havre (north of France, www.ville-lehavre.fr/museum/index.htm). We chose the small town of Cerbère, that has a marine nature reserve (in the south of France, on the border with Spain) because the diving center is one of the more dynamic about the studies of the marine life, and for the richness of its Mediterranean fauna and flora. In a week we saw 43 different species. Some were rather rare.

We found this one in 15m depth under a stone that we turned up and its size was 25mm. The problem is we have never seen this species before and we don't know what order it belongs to. We tried to see if it had a shell and a lung, but no luck, and we couldn't find a gill either. We can see only a external siphon that is a fold of the notum. Unfortunately our scientist friend is not a malacologist, but only a sea slug fanatic like us. We preserved the specimen into formol to study possibly later the radula. With these pictures, is there somebody can help us to ID and know more about this species?
Best regards.


Bielecki, J.P., 2002 (Jul 22) Opisthobranch? from Mediterranean. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7542

Dear Jean-Pierre,
In the lower right photo, which shows the underside of the animal and its head, you can see that the eyes are on swellings at the base of the head tentacles. The eyes are very faint because they are on the upper side of the head. That is a good sign that this is a 'snail' rather than an opisthobranch. I am pretty sure this is a velutinid or lamellariid. Your mention of an anterior siphon being formed by a fold of the skin also suggests that family. Have a look at the Fact Sheet and other messages on that page for more information on the group. They have quite a large ear-shaped internal shell, a bit like that of Haliotis, but quite colourless. These animals are often mistaken for nudibranchs, and sometimes, like flatworms, I have to give them a second look in the field before deciding what they are. Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Jul 22). Comment on Opisthobranch? from Mediterranean by Jean-Pierre Bielecki. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/7542

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