Phestilla from the NOAA website

August 2, 2005
From: Frances Clements

Can anyone identify this sea slug? I was looking at the NOAA website [USA National Oceanic & Atmospheric Adminstration], of public domain pictures and thought this animal, probably from Hawaii, was very beautiful. Thanks for the information.

Image ID: reef0327, The Coral Kingdom Collection
Location: University of Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology
Credit: Photo Collection of Dr. James P. McVey, NOAA Sea Grant Program

Frances Clements

Clements, Frances, 2005 (Aug 2) Phestilla from the NOAA website. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Frances,
I am surprised NOAA haven't made some effort to identify their photos. This is the coral-eating Phestilla melanobrachia, an aeolid, which you'll see from the Fact Sheet, comes in orange and black colour forms.

Most aeolids have a cnidosac at the tips of their cerata where they store stinging cells from their prey. However, in the corallivorous genus Phestilla, the cnidosac is absent but the tips of the cerata are swollen, and the skin lined with large gland cells, which can be seen very clearly in the close-up of the photo alongside. Have a look at the pages on the Forum dealing with coral feeders.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2005 (Aug 2). Comment on Phestilla from the NOAA website by Frances Clements. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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