Large Spurilla from Coffs Harbour, NSW

April 15, 2000
From: Carol Buchanan

Hi Bill

Could you give me an ID on this animal please?

This Phyllodesmium? was the first attempt with a camera after 2 1/2 years being dry. It was photographed at South Solitary Island, off Coff's Harbour, northern New South Wales {Australia] at about 15 metres, and was approx 35mm long. There were 2 animals together, the second was much larger, too large to fit in my framers. Its hard to be more exact as to size, as the extension tube is a home made job, somewhere between 1:1 & 1:2.

Carol Buchanan

Buchanan, C., 2000 (Apr 15) Large Spurilla from Coffs Harbour, NSW. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Berghia/Spurilla major DSM

Dear Carol,
I am pretty sure this is a species of Spurilla rather than a Phyllodesmium, although it does have some similarities to Phyllodesmium magnum. I think I can see papillae on the rhinophores, which is a character of Spurilla, while in they would be smooth. The other good character is the tapering tip to each ceras which suggests an internal cnidosac. Species of Phyllodesmium lack a defensive cnidosac and have apparently replaced it with a swollen rounded glandular ceratal tip.

I am pretty sure your animal is Spurilla major. Usually it is not so blue in colour but a photo in Willan & Coleman (1984) identified as Spurilla amakusana, but which is most probably S. major, has an intermediate colour pattern between your photo and the photos at the top of the page. The white bands on either side of the head are part of the white ring found on the head of less pigmented specimens. I have discussed the identity of this species more fully at the top of the page.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Apr 15). Comment on Large Spurilla from Coffs Harbour, NSW by Carol Buchanan. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Spurilla major

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