Melibe australis from Woolgoolga, northern NSW

March 1, 2003
From: W.B.Rudman

As promised earlier, here are some photos and information on the southern Australian species Melibe australis. As you will see from other messages, it seems possible there is more than one relatively small species around temperate Australia.

Photos:: Arrawarra Rock platform, Woolgoolga, Northern New South Wales. 3 Dec 1990 At LWS. Numerous specimens(approx. 28 mm long) AM C164561. Photos: Bill Rudman

The animals produced a strong acrid smell when disturbed. They were found under rocks on the lower shore in areas where brown algae are the dominant algae. There were many egg masses and the animals showed a huge range of colour, some of which is illustrated here. Some were transparent with a few brown & white specks. Others have opaque white, pink or orange pigment on the dorsum and the flat outer surface of cerata. The oral hood similar in colour to dorsum. There were usually 5 pairs of cerata (last very small). When resting, with the stalked cerata 'tucked in', the opaque pigmented specimens look just like the ascidian colonies of the same colours - found just a little further up the shore. When sitting, the oral veil is held antero-dorsally, and the front of the foot is conical, like the tail.

The photos show a typical specimen [upper right] which is translucent white with little pigmentation, a specimens with some yellow and white specks [lower left] and an animal with a heavy covering of opaque pink pigmentation [lower right]. In a separate message are photos showing the remarkable resemblance the cerata, of animals with opaque pigmentation have to the compound ascidians living on the shore.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Mar 1) Melibe australis from Woolgoolga, northern NSW. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Melibe australis

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