Sweet-smelling Melibe from South Korea

November 7, 2006
From: Grace N. Palmos

Dear Dr. Bill and all,

Greeting from South Korea!
I am a student and I had been browsing the forum for quite some time now finding the information generously shared by the members very helpful. It is only now that I have the confidence to share the little information I gathered from observing this species of sea slugs. However, I need assistance in correctly identifying this species because there is no taxonomist or for that matter there's nobody from the university who studies this species. So attached are some pictures and I hope the members can comment on them.

Locality: Suwoli Pearl Farm , ca 5 m, Tongyeong (Chungmu; 128°07'~128°44' east, and 34°30'~34°58' north) City, South Korea , Tongyeong Sea , 23 August 2006, Aquarium. Length: ca 7 cm. Photographer: Grazia.

Initially, we identified them as Melibe pilosa (or is it papillosa?). We obtained these slugs from a pearl oyster culture farm in the Tongyeong Sea. Local workers told us that they are often spotted during the summer season clinging to the culture baskets (which are suspended approximately 5 meters below sea water). The average length (as of August this year) of the slugs ranges from 2 - 7 centimeters. They are transparent, often cream to orange in color and some pale brown spots all over their body. Like other species of Melibe, they have a quite large oral hood which systematically opens and closes to draw in their food. They swim by vigorously bending their body from side to side (lateral) with their "head" oftentimes touching their "tail".

The first picture shows a couple of Melibe which I think were mating at that time, as well as exhibiting the "tailing" behavior. This species also emits a citrus-like odor when disturbed. Actually, it is quite a pleasant odor.
Thank you very much for posting my message and any comments/suggestions will be taken positively.

More power,


Palmos, G.N., 2006 (Nov 7) Sweet-smelling Melibe from South Korea. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/17706

Dear Grazia,
I am inclined to call this Melibe viridis, but as you will see in earlier discussions, it is not always easy at present to distinguish the various species of Melibe that have been described.

Your mention of the sweet smell your animals produce is very interesting as a similar odour has been reported from M. leonina and M. australis [see message #16667]. I suggest there that the aldehyde molecule involved may be produced by other members of the genus as well, and your report certainly adds weight to that prediction.

Don't feel hesitant in sharing your observations. In many ways we are all novices in understanding the biology and natural history of these animals, so all contributions are valubale and welcome

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2006 (Nov 7). Comment on Sweet-smelling Melibe from South Korea by Grace N. Palmos. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/17706


Melibe viridis

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