Laila cockerelli - interesting behaviour

August 7, 2002
From: Sean Kearney

Dear Bill,
I recently observed a small (10 mm or so) Laila cockerelli "flexing" its dorsal papillae in a sort of "oars up" manner such as might be seen when whitewater rafters get through an exciting rapid. It looked like it was winking. I was on a dive in the Pt. Loma kelp beds off of San Diego, California at a depth of about 15 meters and was surprised to see how quickly it moved. Any ideas on this behavior?
Thanks in advance,
Sean Kearney

Kearney, S. , 2002 (Aug 7) Laila cockerelli - interesting behaviour. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Sean,
I am sure someone from California can let us know if this is usual behaviour for Laila cockerelli.

Some species rhythmically contract parts of their body, such as their gills, their cerata, or other dorsal papillae, as part of their blood circulation system. Blood circulation in slugs and snails is a little different from the efficient system we have in out bodies where the heart pumps blood around in a closed system of veins and arteries. Snails and slugs have a heart to pump the blood around, but the system of veins and arteries is rather open ended. Although the blood is pumped to and from the gills, the digestive system, and otjer major organs through blood vessels, much of the blood lies free in the body cavity. To ensure this 'loose' blood doesn't just stagnate in one place, regularly motion of the gills and papillae etc., helps to move the blood around the body. It is possible that what you have observed is one of Laila's ways of moving blood from the papillae, where it probably becomes oxygenated, to other parts of the body.
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2002 (Aug 7). Comment on Laila cockerelli - interesting behaviour by Sean Kearney . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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