Chelidonura inornata feeding?

March 29, 2007
From: Leanne & David Atkinson

Hi Bill,
We came across this Chelidonura inornata while diving at Jervis Bay with Ocean Trek. It was at the top of a piece of weed so obviously wasn't there by mistake. When we looked at the photos on the computer screen the weed is covered in tiny transparent prawn like creatures, possibly copepods? In one photo the head and feelers of a copepod is protruding from the mouth of the Chelidonura inornata. Other messages you have on the Chelidonura inornata page talk about the possibility of them eating flatworms. Could it have a varied diet and eat these as well? What do you think is it feeding on?

Locality: Bowen Island, Jervis Bay, 12 metres, Southern New South Wales, Australia, Pacific, 17 March 2007, Large boulders with scattered sponges, ascidians, kelp, gorgonias and algae.. Length: Approximately 10mm. Photographer: Leanne & David Atkinson

Leanne & David Atkinson

Atkinson, L. & D., 2007 (Mar 29) Chelidonura inornata feeding?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Leanne & David,
Although it's always possible they could eat little crustaceans, the only evidence we have at present is of them eating little flatworms. In your photo [middle right] it looks as though the crustacean is half in the mouth of the slug, but it could also be that the slug's head is hovering just above the crustacean. One reason I doubt that your photo is evidence that the crustacean is their food, is the way aglajids feed. All aglajids lack radular teeth, so they ingest their food either by sucking it in very quickly [Melanochlamys, Navanax] or by partially everting the buccal bulb and enveloping the prey [Philinopsis, Aglaja]. From the small and muscular buccal bulb of Chelidonura, I would predict that it sucks its food in very quickly. If this is the case, I doubt if you would be able to take a photo with its food half out of its mouth. If you were able to catch the actual moment, the food would be a blur, not so clearly in focus.

I have included the close-up alongside, not because it helps answer the question, but because it shows the sensory bristles on each side of the mouth very nicely.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Mar 29). Comment on Chelidonura inornata feeding? by Leanne & David Atkinson. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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