Phyllaplysia taylori
Dall, 1900

Family: Aplysiidae


NE Pacific from British Columbia, Canada to California, USA.


Esquimalt Lagoon, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. NE Pacific Ocean. Length: 35 mm. September 2005. intertidal, eel grass beds. Photographer: Nicole LaForge

This greatly modified shape of this relatively small Sea Hare, makes it almost invisible on the leaves of the sea grass Zostera. The name Phyll [= leaf] aplysia is highly appropriate. In external shape, the head has the typical 2 pairs of tentacles [see Aplysioidea head Fact Sheet]. However the parapodia are greatly reduced in size, reduced to a small right flap between the inhalant and exhalant openings [see Aplysioidea mantle Fact Sheet. The genital opening is just in front of the inhalant opening, and from it, the sperm groove runs forward to the penial sac just below the right rhinophore.

The animal is usually bright green with a pattern of white longitudinal lines, outlined with black, and a pattern of transverse black lines, which can be either solid, or broken in to a row of black dots. Colour does vary, and in some specimens, most of the black pigmentation is absent. It feeds by grazing the film of organisms, mainly diatoms, off sea grass leaves, leaving a characteristic feeding scar on the leaves. As well as being camouflaged by its shape and colour, it also orients its body lengthwise along the Zostera leaves. Although it can grow to 8 cm in length, it is usually half that size. It has also been known as Phyllaplysia zostericola McCauley, 1960.

  • Beeman, R. D. (1970) The anatomy and functional morphology of the reproductive system in the opisthobranch mollusk Phyllaplysia taylori Dall, 1900. The Veliger, 13: 1-31.
  • Beeman, R. D. (1968) The Order Anaspidea.  The Veliger, 3, Supplement: 87-102.
  • Beeman, R. D. (1963) Variation and synonymy of Phyllaplysia in the Northeastern Pacific (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia). The Veliger, 6: 43-47.
Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2005 (October 22) Phyllaplysia taylori Dall, 1900. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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