Non-swimming species of Melibe

February 26, 2003
From: Thierry Thibaut

To answer Paul Katz's question about a non-swimming Melibe species. I saw a video made by my friend Ante Zuljevic (Institute of Fisheries of Split, Croatia) showing a big specimen of Melibe fimbriata crawling on a Caulerpa taxifolia meadow in the Adriatic Sea. During all the film, the species never swam.

Thanks Thibaut,
I have put messages referring to Melibe fimbriata on the Melibe viridis page because I can't find any easy way to distinguish the two species. There is a message from Peter van Bragt with photos of swimming Melibe fimbriata from Turkey. Also Thompson & Crampton (1984), when they first reported this species from Turkey, described its swimming in some detail. Many of these swimming nudibranchs seem quite reluctant to use their swimming abilities, but when they start they often continue for a considerable period of time.

Thompson & Crampton's paper reminded me of the South African species, Melibe rosea, which like the southern Australian species, M. australis, does not swim. Melibe rosea, which grows to 50mm, might be a better comparative species than M. australis, which seldom grows larger than 10mm. By coincidence, neither species is at present represented on the Forum. Hopefully that gap will be filled in the near future.

• Thompson, T.E., Crampton, D.M. (1984) Biology of Melibe fimbriata, a conspicuous opisthobranch mollusc of the Indian Ocean, which has now invaded the Mediterranean Sea. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 50(2): 113-121.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Feb 26). Comment on Non-swimming species of Melibe by Thierry Thibaut. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Melibe spp

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