Chromodoris cavae
Eliot, 1904

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Chromodorididae


East Africa [known only from Kwa Zulu-Natal, South Africa & Zanzibar, Tanzania].


UPPER: Port Shepstone, South Coast KwaZulu/Natal,- SOUTH AFRICA. Near Rocky Reef, 24m, October 1999. Size: 50mm. PHOTO: Valda Fraser.
LOWER: Holotype. Plate 24, fig 7. Eliot 1904. PAINTING: C. Crossland.

Note added 4 May 2007:  See message #19876 for a discussion on colour variation in Chromodoris cavae.

In an earlier publication (Rudman, 1987) I considered C. cavae and C. vicina Eliot, 1904, both described from Zanzibar, East Africa, to be synonyms of C. tennentana Kelaart, which was described from Ceylon [Sri Lanka].

I still believe C. vicina is a synonym of C. tennentana but Valda Fraser's photo from South Africa clearly confirm that C. cavae is a distinct species. Below are Crossland's notes on the living animal, which formed part of Eliot's description. I also include Crossland's painting which matches Valda's photo well, except for the extra dark spots, which I assume are variable. Gosliner's (1987) photo 109,(p.75) as C. vicina is very similar to Crossland's painting with many more purple spots than in Valda Fraser's photos.

"Several specimens from the East and West Coasts of Zanzibar.
The following are the notes on the living animal:- Colour yellowish white, with indefinite large drab blotches laterally. Edges of mantle and foot bordered with light violet. On the back are black spots surrounded by a white line and also irregular dull orange spots. The foot is not very broad, white in colour, with a row of dull orange spots and black spots below them. The tip and anterior side of the rhinophores are purple; the lamellae are reduced to fine striations" ..... Eliot, 1904

See Valda Fraser's messages below.

•Eliot, C.N.E. (1904) On some nudibranchs from East Africa and Zanzibar. Part IV. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, (1904): 380-406.
•Rudman, W.B. (1987) The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: Chromodoris epicuria, C. aureopurpurea, C. annulata, C. coi and Risbecia tryoni colour groups. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 90: 305-407.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 1999 (November 12) Chromodoris cavae Eliot, 1904. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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  5. Variation in Chromodoris cavae
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  10. Rediscovery of Chromodoris cavae Eliot, 1904
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