Sclerodoris apiculata from Townsville, Queensland

August 23, 2007
From: Melanie Wood

I found this species of Sclerodoris apiculata attached to the underside of a rock (which it consequently fell off after it was disturbed). While I was observing it I noticed a behaviour which I found to be unusual - it was lifting or rolling the front of the mantle up and coming forward or 'lunging' slightly though I do not know what at. I did capture a couple of photos of this, but they have not turned out too well. The last time I found the same species it was much more yellow then this specimen but I still think it is lovely.
When looking at the larger picture I thought that the 'tapering papillae' were rather cool.

Locality: Rowes Bay, Townsville, 0.39 metres, Queensland, Australia, 10 August 2007, Intertidal muddy area. Length: 7 cm. Photographer: Melanie Wood.

Melanie Wood

Wood, M.J., 2007 (Aug 23) Sclerodoris apiculata from Townsville, Queensland. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Mel,
Thanks for this record. The tapering papillae are its most characteristic feature, and when disturbed they can completely retract. Which means that identifying them from preserved specimens can be tricky. I haven't included your photo of the mantle lifting up at the front but the animal does this in very shallow water because it 'feels' the water surface as a 'surface' it can crawl on. If you put it in a dish of water it will crawl up the sides until it reaches the water surface and then crawl out upside down on the underside of the surface film. I don't think they do it for adaptive reasons, I think it is just a reflex response to a sooth surface. Often at low tide you will find nudibranchs and small snails in sheltered pools crawling like this, suspended upside down.  

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2007 (Aug 23). Comment on Sclerodoris apiculata from Townsville, Queensland by Melanie Wood. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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