Chelidonura in Atlantic

May 28, 2001
From: Ray

There is is picture of Chelidonura hirundinina in Paul Humann's Reef Creature ID book. Yet on this site you give its distribution as only the West Pacific. Does this species occur in the W. Atlantic?

It has a different coloration than the one pictured here. It has orange, black and blue stripes with a white patch on the mid back. Is this C. hirundinina?

ray, 2001 (May 28) Chelidonura in Atlantic. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Ray,
In general the photo has the same T-shaped mark on the headshield as Indo-West Pacific specimens of the species but Humann's photo shows an orange rather than black background and lacks the yellow lines of Indo-West Pacific animals. The Caribbean fauna has lots of interesting links to the Indo-West Pacific such as Micromelo undata and Hydatina physis so there is insurmountable problem with Chelidonura hirundinina having a circumtropical distribution. Like many of these animals there is little published information on their anatomy and colour variability. Until we know more about the Caribbean animal I would prefer to remain undecided. I you have photos of the Caribbean animal they would be a welcome addition to the Forum.

I note that Humann gives Chelidonura hirundinina the common name Leech Headshield Slug which I guess was an attempt to appease the publisher's misguided belief that we can't survive without common names, even if they are manufactured artificially for the occasion. I presume Headshield Slugs comes from the Order Cephalaspidea, but Leech is clearly an error based on Hirudo = leech rather than the Hirundo = swallow. The scientific name of Chelidonura hirundinina certainly over-emphasises the shape of the 'tail' in these animals. Chelidonura is made up of chela (as in a crab's claw) and nura = tail. Also hirundinina = little swallow, which is another reference to the tail, so reminiscent of the bird's.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2001 (May 28). Comment on Chelidonura in Atlantic by Ray. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

  1. Chelidonura hirundinina from U.S.Virgin Islands
    From: Carly Kauffman, September 6, 2007
  2. Navanax inermis or Chelidonura hirundina ?
    From: Takao Urasawa, May 28, 2007
  3. Unknown Chelidonura from New Zealand
    From: Ian Skipworth, May 24, 2007
  4. Chelidonura hirundinina from the Kermadecs
    From: Ian Skipworth, May 26, 2006
  5. Chelidonura hirundinina from the Caribbean
    From: Les Wilk, October 18, 2005
  6. Chelidonura hirundinina mating
    From: Anne DuPont, August 26, 2005
  7. Mating Chelidonura hirundinina from Hawaii
    From: Lyudmila Zinkova , December 23, 2004
  8. Chelidonura hirundinina from Malaysia
    From: Asther M. Lau, September 17, 2003
  9. Chelidonura hirundinina from Caribbean
    From: Carol Thomas, August 13, 2003
  10. Chelidonura hirundinina from the Bahamas
    From: Anne DuPont, April 9, 2003
  11. Chelidonura hirundinina from Lord Howe Island
    From: W.B. Rudman, January 6, 2003
  12. Chelidonura hirundinina from Bali
    From: Stuart Hutchison, March 11, 2002
  13. Chelidonura chelidonura from Fiji
    From: Julian Sprung , February 9, 2002
  14. Chelidonura hirundinina in the Caribbean
    From: Anne DuPont, October 18, 2001
  15. Swallowtail sea slug?
    From: Robin Adler, September 24, 2001
  16. Chelidonura hirundinina in the Solomons
    From: Bruce Potter, September 24, 2001
  17. Re: Chelidonura in Atlantic
    From: Joe, September 21, 2001
  18. Chelidonura hirundinina from Solomon Ids
    From: Mary Jane Adams, February 7, 2001

Show factsheet and all related messages