Re: Phyllidia varicosa mimic

March 24, 2003
From: Marina Poddubetskaia

Dear Ros,
Concerning your query about Bohadschia graffei juveniles as a mimic of Phyllidia varicosa. Recently, I had a diving cruise to Brothers Islands, in the Red Sea. Near Safaga I found this juvenile Bohadschia graeffei. It was just on a hard coral.

It seems that it mimics Phyllidia varicosa but there were very few nudibranchs there and I didn’t see any blue phyllidiid with yellow tubercles. I hope this record will help you in your research.

Date: February 09, 2003
Location: Safaga, Egypt, Red Sea
Site: Panorama Reef
Depth: 10m
Size: 65-70mm
Photos: Marina Poddubetskaia - Nembro website

Best wishes,

Poddubetskaia, M., 2003 (Mar 24) Re: Phyllidia varicosa mimic. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Marina,
Thanks for these wonderful photos of the holothurian Bohadschia graeffei. To those with little knowledge of holothurians or sea cucumbers, the lower left photo shows the tube feet (yellow) very well. These are the same organs which enable it, and its close relatives, the starfish and sea urchins, to 'walk'. The lower right photo shows the circlet of oral feeding tentacles around the mouth which enables it to collect the detritus and organic matter it eats, from the substrate.

Now I have finished the anatomy lesson here is a comment on mimicry and your bservation that there were no 'models' - that is blue and yellow phyllidiids around. Mimicry is quite difficult to prove, and I am sure some similar colour patterns have evolved by chance, or the predators who are supposedly fooled by the trickery can't see the colours. But with that caution, there are certainly many examples of remarkable mimicry. I don't know whether the juvenile holothurian is mimicking phylidiids, but if it is then the mimicry would have evolved over a long time period. It is certainly n necessary for model and mimic to be around together at all times,
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2003 (Mar 24). Comment on Re: Phyllidia varicosa mimic by Marina Poddubetskaia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from



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