Limacia cockerelli - colour variation

May 29, 2007
From: Roeland Papen

In looking up multiple images of Limacia cockerelli on the web and comparing it to the picture I am attaching I wandered if the different color varieties could be related to a geographic color change in its food source?

Locality: Breakwater, Monterey , 12 m, California, USA, Pacific Ocean, 29 April 2006, Rocky Breakwater. Length: 25 mm. Photographer: Roeland Papen.

Roeland Papen

Papen, R., 2007 (May 29) Limacia cockerelli - colour variation. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Roeland,

Great photo. Yes, this species may be the most variably colored dorid on this coastline. Several different researchers have begun to untangle the mystery of this complex, but none has finished. As you might expect, there are two camps - one believes this is a highly variably colored species and the other, that there are three distinct species, as I mentioned in my second edition of Pacific Coast Nudibranchs. Until this is resolved and published in a peer reviewed journal, I am reporting that there are three variants. Interestingly yours would be a fourth, lending to the theory of high variation. I lump them as follows: 1) Red rhinophores and a white gill, 2) low dorsal tubercles tipped in white, similar to your critter, but in some specimens they are tipped in red, and 3) large red blotches on the dorsum. Your critter has a distinctive red gill.

Your photo is especially great showing the morphology of the lateral dorsal papillae. These features, look very similar to the anatomically distinct cerata of aeolid nudibranchs, being slender at their base and more bulbous near the end.

Thanks so much for sharing this,
Dave Behrens

Behrens, D.W., 2007 (May 29). Comment on Limacia cockerelli - colour variation by Roeland Papen. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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