Melibe viridis from South Africa

November 20, 2009
From: Valda Fraser

Dear Bill

The first Melibe I have ever seen and now I'm a BIG fan.

They drove me crazy ... trying to get an image that looks better than a blob with processes.
There were numerous individuals of different sizes and colouration. They were feeding on the grass beds in the estuary. I love they way they "comb" the leaves with their enormous mouths. What are they eating?
I have included an image of one guarding its egg mass. Please help with ID details.

Locality: Pomene, 2 m, Mozambique, Indian, 15 November 2009, Grass beds in estuary. Length: 8 cm - 20 cm. Photographer: Valda Fraser.

Take care

Fraser, V.J., 2009 (Nov 20) Melibe viridis from South Africa. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Valda,

As you will see from earlier discussions I am of the opinion that the name Melibe viridis applies to this large species which is wide spread in the Indo-East Pacific.

As to what they eat. Have look at some of the other species and accompanying messages. They feed on small crustaceans [ shrimps, amphipods etc] and I have fed them small crabs in captivity. They catch these in their huge oral hood which acts like a fisherman's hand net or dip net but is more 'high tech' because it has all the sensory feelers along the edge of the opening to find suitable prey. By wiping along all the blades of sea grass it makes little crustacea try and escape by swimming into the 'net'  where they are swallowed.

I don't think that anyone who has seen these animals in action could be anything but a very big fan!

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2009 (Nov 20). Comment on Melibe viridis from South Africa by Valda Fraser. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Melibe viridis

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