Nembrotha aurea
Pola, Cervera & Gosliner, 2008

Suborder: DORIDINA
Family: Polyceridae
Subfamily: Nembrothinae


Tropical Indo-West Pacific


Upper: near Padar Island, Indonesia (part of Komodo National Park). Photo: Ken Knezick. Lower: Sodwana Bay, 30 metres, South Africa, Indian, 13 March 2006, Coral reef. Length: 30 mm. Photographer: Colin Ogden.

Externally the animals are characterised by the presence of longitudinal brown lines of irregular width and large diffuse patches of yellow and orange. Usually, the lines are arranged as follows: one broad mid-dorsal line between the rhinophores and the gills and two shorter ones of similar width on each side of the middle line; There is also a similar line outside these, at the edge of the mantle, which  runs outside the gills and then behind them to converge with the corresponding line on the otherside to form a single line which runs back to the posterior end of the foot. Anteriorly this line runs around the rhinophores to join its counterpart in the anterior midline. There are also similar lines running down each side of the body. In some animals the brown bands can be very wide and can even coalesce to form an almost solid brown dorsal patch., while in others the lines can be thin and more numerous making the animal look more like N. lineolata.

The ground colour of the body is white or cream white. There is a large dorsal orange to orange-brown background patch yellow patch between the gills and the rhinophores and another large dorsal orange patch behind the gills. Often the rest of the dorsal background can be bright yellow, or parts of it have yellow patches. There can also be distinctive blue or purple markings, but in some animals these are only very faint. They can be present on the oral tentacles, the margin of the foot, the base of the rhinophore sheaths, and the base of the gills. The rhinophores are red. The  rhinophore sheaths range from white to blue, and in some specimens are edges with dark brown. The gills are red and their stalks white or blue.

Apart from the orange patches it is quite difficult to differentiate this species from N. purpureolineata (which is now considered the senior synonym of N. rutilans). Both show a very similar range of colour variation, and both have a very similar internal anatomy.

  • O'Donoghue, C. H. (1924) Report on Opisthobranchiata from the Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia, with description of a new parasitic copepod. Journal of the Linnean Society, London 35: 521-579, Pls.27-30.
  • Pola, M., Cervera, J.L. and Gosliner, T.M. 2008. Revision of the Indo-Pacific genus Nembrotha (Nudibranchia: Dorididae: Polyceridae), with description of two new species. Scientia Marina 72(1): 145-183.
Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2008 (March 4) Nembrotha aurea Pola, Cervera & Gosliner, 2008. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

  1. Nembrotha aurea being eaten by Robostra luteolineata [2]
    From: Colin Ogden, April 15, 2008
  2. Nembrotha aurea being eaten by Robostra luteolineata [1]
    From: Colin Ogden, April 15, 2008
  3. Re: Nembrotha rutilans, N. aurea & N. purpureolineata
    From: Colin Ogden, April 15, 2008
  4. Nembrotha rutilans, N. aurea & N. purpureolineata
    From: Bill Rudman, March 4, 2008
  5. Nembrotha purpureolineata - juvenile
    From: Wyatt Ang, July 13, 2007
  6. Nembrotha purpureolinata - feeding?
    From: Colin Ogden, March 29, 2006
  7. Nembrotha purpureolineata mating
    From: Roberto Sozzani, May 4, 2005
  8. Nembrotha purpureolineata from Mozambique
    From: Charles Rowe, February 7, 2005
  9. Nembrotha purpureolineata on an unusual path
    From: Valda Fraser, August 15, 2003
  10. Nembrotha purpureolineata from Indonesia
    From: Jim Bartlett, November 28, 2002
  11. Nembrotha purpureolineata feeding?
    From: Scott Johnson, October 25, 2002
  12. Nembrotha purpureolineata from Komodo
    From: Walabha Sinbul, August 7, 2002
  13. Nembrotha purpureolineata from Japan
    From: Yasuhiro Shirai, May 30, 2002
  14. Nembrotha purpureolineata? from Sulawesi
    From: Mary Jane Adams, May 11, 2002
  15. Nembrotha? from Japan
    From: Ken-Ichi Ohno, May 10, 2002
  16. Nembrotha purpureolineata from Westn Australia
    From: Kirk Gibson, April 1, 2001
  17. Nudibranchs of Southern Africa
    From: Yvonne Rozsenich, February 10, 2001
  18. Mating Activity - Nembrotha rutilans
    From: Ken Knezick, January 18, 2001
  19. Nembrotha from Philippines
    From: Erwin Koehler, March 14, 2000
  20. Nembrotha purpureolineata from South Africa
    From: Valda Fraser, December 20, 1999

Show factsheet and all related messages