More on Melibe engeli

July 5, 2007
From: Jung Eun Yoon

Dr, Rudman,

As a follow up on our last message [#19762] we found  Melibe engeli? again during a night dive, and I am sending you pictures of its details. You can clearly see that the cerata have up to 6 papillae, and that the rhinophores are large and flat, with papillae. It is more than 8 cm long, can it be a different sub-species of M. engeli? It was feeding on algae, but when disturbed by light, it hid its hood under the algae. Is it a normal behavior? Many thanks for your kind attention.

Locality: Boracay Island, 3 meters, Philippines, Sulu Sea, 24 March 2007, Sand temporarily covered with algae. Length: more than 8 cm. Photographer: Yeong Jeon.

Jung Eun Yoon

Yoon, J.E., 2007 (Jul 5) More on Melibe engeli. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Jung Eun,
Thanks for the extra photos. Your animals are certainly larger than I have seen before but lots of the observations to the Forum show us that what is printed is not always the full story. It seems that M. engeli grows larger than previously thought. You say it was 'it was feeding on algae'.. I am not sure if you mean it seemed to be eating algae or that it was feeding on animals living on algae. All I can say is I am sure it doesn't eat algae. I have spent many hours watching Melibe engeli catching small crustacea in its oral hood and swallowing them whole. It has lost its jaws and radular teeth so it has evolved this very specialised feeding behaviour. It has no equipment to bite or rip off a piece of algae to eat.

I am not sure how to interpret your observation of it hiding its oral hood under the algae when you shone a light on it. It may have been trying to unsuccessfully hide itself from a potential predator but that's just a guess.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Jul 5). Comment on More on Melibe engeli by Jung Eun Yoon. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


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