Spurilla australis from Northern New South Wales

February 2, 2005
From: Denis Riek

Dear Bill,
Thanks for your reply on Spurilla major. I observed several examples of Spurilla australis this winter and all looked like the animal in the upper photo, all around 25-30mm. The larger animal (65mm) in the other photos is what I wrongly believed to be Spurilla major. At least I was correct when I said that I had seen Spurilla major in the river, I just didn't know what I was looking at. The variations in colour and pattern in some species makes it hard for us amateurs, Bill.

Locality: Brunswick River, nthn N.S.W. Australia. Depth: 3 metres. Length: 65 mm. 25 August 2004. on algae covered rocks on sea wall. Photographer: Denis Riek



Riek, D.W., 2005 (Feb 2) Spurilla australis from Northern New South Wales. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12923

Dear Denis,
There's no shame in getting an identification wrong - I do it all the time. I think they deliberately make it difficult for us. The colour difference in this case is quite an interesting story, some of which is on the Fact Sheet. This is one of the species I have called solar-powered, because they can get much of their energy requirements from 'farming' microscopic plants in their tissues. The light coloured form ,in your upper photo, is an animal in which the plant population in its body is very sparse, while the dark brown version is an animal with many healthy plants [zooxanthellae].
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2005 (Feb 2). Comment on Spurilla australis from Northern New South Wales by Denis Riek. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/12923


Spurilla australis

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