Phestilla melanobrachia
Bergh, 1874

Family: Tergipedidae


Upper Right: On eaten colony of Tubastrea. Passe Deverd, outer Barrier Reef, near Koumac, New Caledonia, 20°44.7'S, 164°15.5'E, 15m, outside of reef, coral slabs, 13 October 1993, many specimens (20, 22 & 30mm, most 47mm long alive). Lower Left: egg masses laid on dead Tubastrea. AM C200460. Photos: Bill Rudman.

This relatively large aeolid (to 40mm long), has been recorded from southern Japan, and Hawaii, to northeastern Australia, suggesting a western Pacific distribution. It has both black and bright orange-yellow colour forms, the colour matching the colour of the dendrophylliid coral (Tubastrea, Dendrophyllia) on which specimens are feeding. Often mispelt melanobranchia, Bergh likening the cerata to 'arms' - brachia, rather than 'gills' - branchia.

• Harris, L.G. (1968) Notes on the biology and distribution of the aeolid nudibranch (Gastropoda), Phestilla melanobrachia Bergh, 1874. Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, 16: 193-198,2Pls.
• Harris, L.G. (1975) Studies on the life history of two coral-eating nudibranchs of the genus Phestilla. Biol. Bull., 149(3): 539-550.
• Rudman, W.B. (1981a) Further studies on the anatomy and ecology of opisthobranch molluscs feeding on the scleractinian coral Porites. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 71: 373-412.

See Coral Feeding page for more information.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2001 (July 10) Phestilla melanobrachia Bergh, 1874. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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