Elysia from Belize?

February 19, 2005
From: Julianne Parolisi

Hi Bill!
During a recent dive off Half Moon Cay in Belize, I spotted this tiny creature at ~30ft all alone in the middle of a huge expanse of sand.. The local divemaster I was with wasn't sure what was, saying only "it's our version of a spanish dancer" (??). It looked like some type of Elysia with it's mantle all wrapped up- any ideas? I know it's a horrible picture (didn't have a macro lens with me, and this guy was TINY!), but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Locality:  Half Moon Cay, Belize, Caribbean Sea. Depth: ~ 30 ft. Length: ~1cm. 11 Feb 2005. sandy bottom near reef wall. Photographer: Julianne Parolisi

Thanks! :)


Parolisi, J., 2005 (Feb 19) Elysia from Belize?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/13182

Note added 21 Feb 2005: See Jim Lyle's message [#13184] suggesting this is G. chacmol.

Dear Julianne,
It certainly is a little speck in the middle of an expanse of white sand. I have enlarged 'the speck' and your animal turns out to be quite an interesting find. Alhthough it has similarities in shape to an Elysia, the tube it has on its head shows that it is a member of the bubble-shell family Gastropteridae. I know of three species from the Caribbean region [see message #11964], and I am pretty sure your animal is Gastropteron vespertilium, which was described from Florida about 20 years ago and I don't think has been reported since then. That species is described as having a grayish or purplish black ground cover, with occasional blue grey spots on parapodia. There is a bright yellow [occasionally blue or green] line present on the edge of the parapodia and the siphon. The tentacle-like flagellum on the visceral hump is translucent white. Another Caribbean species, Gastropteron chacmol, is a reddish plum colour with a broader yellowish band around the parapodial edge.

Of course its difficult to be sure without a specimen, but it certainly looks like it.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2005 (Feb 19). Comment on Elysia from Belize? by Julianne Parolisi. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/13182

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