Life Spans

December 22, 1999
From: Andy Horton

Hello Bill,

Your life spans page on the Forum web page was useful - I found it using the search facility. British species of opisthobranch molluscs studied only live for one year, perhaps 15-18 months?

However, this information may be out of date. Therefore, I consulted your page.

I was interested in Cuthona poritophages feeding on Porites. (I have got an idea that Porites is a large colonial coral) Does the aeolid eat out the colony of Porites, or do the Porites polyps have a short life span? (naturally short, or truncated because of environmental reasons?)

I have received numerous enquiries about the life spans of sea anemones. Many species of sea anemone are believed to live for a very long time, unless eaten by predators.

Andy Horton
British Sea Slugs

Horton, A., 1999 (Dec 22) Life Spans. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Andy,

Sorry the page wasn't in the Index. Most of the coral-eating nudibranchs seem to live a fairly perilous life hiding from fish predators and so appear restricted to less exposed parts of coral colonies. Certainly in aquaria where there is no danger from predation, populations of the nudirbanchs can expand rapidly and do destroy whole coral colonies, but I don't think occurs in nature.

Porites colonies can be very large and long-lived and a program of borings from large colonies on the Great Barrier Reef is proving very useful in giving us an idea of climate conditions in northern Australia back thousands of years. When a patch of a colony is eaten the bare space is quickly overgrown by the surrounding tissue.

Your mention of sea anemones living quite long reminds be of studies suggesting a common intertidal anemone in temperate Australia and New Zealand can live to 200 years.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 1999 (Dec 22). Comment on Life Spans by Andy Horton . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Life span

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