Chromodoris macfarlandi on Aplysilla polyraphis

June 13, 2000
From: Jeff Goddard

Hi Bill,

Here is a photo of a 22 mm long Chromodoris macfarlandi on a piece of its preferred prey, the sponge Aplysilla polyraphis. I found both at Bird Rock, La Jolla, California last weekend. The hair-like vertical spongin fibers are all that remain of the sponge after feeding by the nudibranch.

Regarding your question about variability in the color of the edge of the dorsum of Chromodoris macfarlandi, all of the twenty or so specimens I have seen have had the outer yellow and inner white bands. Only Behrens (1980) describes the edge as white. Behrens (1991), MacFarland (1966), McDonald & Nybakken (1980) and McDonald (1983) all describe the edge as being cadmium orange or yellow gold, with a submarginal band of white.

I am not familiar with any references to work on chromodorids acquiring color pigments from their prey, but I will do some searching. Based on the similarity of the color of Aplysilla polyraphis to the tips of both the gills and rhinophores of Chromodoris macfarlandi, I suspect this pair might be an example of such a transfer.

Jeff Goddard

Goddard, J., 2000 (Jun 13) Chromodoris macfarlandi on Aplysilla polyraphis. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Jeff,
Thanks for the photo to match your earlier one of C. macfarlandi feeding on Aplysilla glacialis [#2499].

Since asking about your suggestion of C. macfarlandi removing pigments from its food I have added some pages on Noumea haliclona which in some parts of its range is very cryptically coloured, but only on the right coloured sponge. From studies by Geoff Avern, we can say that in the case of the New South Wales colour form, the colour was independent of the colour of the food eaten.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Jun 13). Comment on Chromodoris macfarlandi on Aplysilla polyraphis by Jeff Goddard. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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