defensive secretions

September 9, 1998
From: Patrick Krug, Ph.D.

Hi All,

I have only just found this site, and dont even know if this message will get posted (or where). But I was just reading the description of someone apparently getting their fingers glued together by a sea cucumber, and inquiring about defensive secretions. I studied the defensive secretions of nudibranchs as part of my PhD (finished this year, yay me!) and have ample thoughts on the subject. But the thing that struck me was this description of the physical properties of the secretion itself, which is something not often examined scientifically. I only studied the toxic compounds contained in opisthobranch mucous, but one of the most impressive secretions i ever came across was that of the large British nudibranch Tritonia hombergi. Although I could not detect any unusual chemical compounds in the mucous, the secretion formed an almost instant glue, firmly sticking my fingers together. It makes me wonder what the physical contribution of mucous secretions can be to an effective chemical defense.

The main thrust of my research is reproductive polymorphism and larval settlement in a Californian sacoglossan, Alderia modesta; I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who regularly comes across sacoglossan egg masses or looks at eggs in estuarine opisthobranchs.

Thanks for letting me ramble, and for the great pictures and interesting topics-


Patrick Krug
19 August 1998

Krug, P. Ph.D., 1998 (Sep 9) defensive secretions. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Pat,
Thanks for the message. If you have any pictures or information you would like to post on the site about your PhD topic we would be glad to have it ... Bill Rudman.


Defensive glands

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