November 17, 2009
From: Vishal Bhave
I don't have images of it in its habitat as it was collected by my friend Rahul Athaley.
Locality: Kasheli, Rajapur, Ratnagiri, 16 cm, Maharashtra, India, Arabian sea, 31 October 2009, Intertidal, beneath the rock, in rockpool. Length: 08 mm. Photographer: Vishal Bhave.
email@example.comBhave, V.J., 2009 (Nov 17) Re: Aeolidiopsis harrietae sp. from Kasheli, Ratnagiri. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/22757
This is an interesting species which lives on and feeds on the colonial sea anemone Palythoa. I am pretty sure your species is Aeolidiopsis harrietae. If you go to that Fact Sheet you will find links to further information on its interesting biology. It is one of those nudibranchs which takes zooxanthellae from its coelenterate prey and 'farms' them in its own body. The network of brown we can see in all parts of the body, are specialised ramifications of the digestive gland where the zooxanthellae are housed.
Terry Gosliner (1985) described a very similar animal from South Africa as Baeolidia palythoae. I have discussed elsewhere why I have decided to continue using Aeolidiopsis [see #7614]. At present, A. harrietae is known only from the SW Pacific which means that your animal from western India is much closer to the known localities of B. palythoae. However the only difference noted by Gosliner which I could possibly find from photos is a dark brown subapical ceratal gland which Gosliner said was present in all his specimens. I can see no sign of it in your photos so will take the conservative approach and identify it as A. harrietae. I think we need to find more populations of this/these species before we can say anything further.
Whatever species it eventually turns out to be, all these solar-powered nudibranchs are worthy of much more study.
- Gosliner, T. M. (1985). The aeolid nudibranch family Aeolidiidae (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) from tropical southern Africa. Annals of the South African Museum 95(6): 233-267.