Mating Chelidonura hirundinina from Hawaii

December 23, 2004
From: Lyudmila Zinkova

Dear Dr Rudman,
Thank you for your response on my sea hare question. I'd like to ask you another picture question, please. I saw dozens of mating sea slugs. I know they are hermaphrodite, which in my opinion means that the same kind should have the same color, yet the ones that were mating in Hawaii sometimes had a little bit different coloration. Here's one of the pictures. If you are interested I could send you much more of these.
Thank you.

Zinkova, L. , 2004 (Dec 23) Mating Chelidonura hirundinina from Hawaii. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Mila,
Thanks for this photo of mating Chelidonura hirundinina. Hermaphrodite just means that they have a functioning set of both male and female reproductive organs. It doesn't mean they can't have the normal variability you expect to find in a species. Many species have some variation in their colour pattern, such as number of spots, size of spots etc. In Chelidonura hirundinina, as you'll see from other photos on the Forum, is quite variable in colour, especially in the shades of blue and yellow. You would only expect there to be no variation if two animals were identical twins (where a fertilised egg splits in two) or in clones, where off-spring are produced by budding off a bit of the parent's body (which certainly happens in some cnidarians, but not to my knowledge in molluscs).

Now that the Forum is active again, I would welcome more photos from Hawaii
Best wishes
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2004 (Dec 23). Comment on Mating Chelidonura hirundinina from Hawaii by Lyudmila Zinkova . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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