Tambja verconis - Life Stages?

August 10, 2007
From: Steve Ivacko

Hi there,

On my final dive at the Poor Knights during my trip to New Zealand, I snapped these shots - I believe all are Tambja verconis, but they appear to be either in different life stages, or in different degrees of health because of the differences of colours of the blue trim areas, and the yellow-turning-blue main areas of their bodies.

Locality: Brady's Corner, Poor Knight Islands, 5 - 15 metres, New Zealand, Pacific Ocean, 24 March 2007. Photographer: Steve Ivacko.

I would be extremely grateful if I could get some clarification on this.



Ivacko, S, 2007 (Aug 10) Tambja verconis - Life Stages?. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/20424

Dear Steve,
You don't give any clues as to the size of these three animals but from the background they all look quite large, so I don't think 'life-stages' is an explanation to the colour differences. In two of your photos the animals are eating - or showing interest in a plant-like colony of the bryozoan Bugula dentata on which they feed. Species of Tambja all feed on bryozoans, and as I discuss in a recent message [#19296], they store chemicals from the bryozoan in their skin which they use to protect them from attack, especially from the related nudibranchs of the genus Roboastra.

Species of Tambja  exude these anti-feedant chemicals in a thick mucus from small pores in their skin. I think in the upper and lower photos, the bluish colouration on the body is the mucus secretion from these glands. Apparently some of the blue pigment from the bryozoan is also transferred to the skin glands.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Aug 10). Comment on Tambja verconis - Life Stages? by Steve Ivacko. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/20424


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