Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine
J. Sherman Bleakney

The Nova Scotia Museum Field Guide Series
Nimbus Publishing & Nova Scotia Museum
Halifax, Nova Scotia
ISBN 1-55109-192-5
216 pages.
Size: 11.5 x 20.5 cm (4.5" x 8").
Price: Approx $US15

This book, published in 1996, covers a fauna we know little about. I recently ordered a copy because I was puzzled about why I had heard so little about it, and had never seen it referred to.

Having now read it, I am still puzzled by its low profile amongst malacologists and amateurs. Certainly it has no colour photos, but it has excellent line drawings and a wealth of information on the external features, natural history and geographic distribution of each of the 47 species from the Atlantic coast of Canada that are included in the book. The records are entirely based on intertidal records so there is clearly scope for further additions to the list, but it is a great advance on what was available before.

I have three mildly negative comments. I am surprised that there are no colour photographs. Even a couple of plates with representative species would have helped to whet the appetite of the general public, which is clearly one of the author's goals. Which neatly leads me to my second point. I don't believe it is necessary to 'write down' to a public audience or to think that kids will only listen if you 'act foolish'. Some of the text makes me decidedly uncomfortable. For example, the first sentence in the Preface: "Sea slugs are beautiful, the very antithesis of garden slugs, so stop saying "yuk!" and in an informative discussion on developmental strategies, juveniles are called 'kids' who can 'immediately pig out with their parents' after hatching. And thirdly, proof-reading seems to have broken down at some stage. References are repeated in many cases. For example Palio nothus has the three references duplicated.

Whatever its shortcomings in presentation, it contains a wealth of information. As the only recent publication covering the opisthobranch fauna of the temperate waters of the Atlantic coast of North America, I think it is a good buy at under $US20 dollars.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2000 (July 29) Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine. J. Sherman Bleakney. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Related messages

Bleakney's Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada ....... etc

February 10, 2004
From: Dave Behrens

Hi Bill:
We have had several requests for Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine by J. Sherman Bleakney, but could not fulfil them because the book is out of print. Today I found a stash of copies.

Readers interesed in buying a copy should e-mail the Nova Scotia Museum (co-publisher of the book). The e-mail address is - It is $14.95 plus shipping from Canada.
Sea Challengers

Behrens, D., 2004 (Feb 10) Bleakney's Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada ....... etc. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Thanks Dave,
I am glad to hear there a still a few copies available
Bill Rudman

Reading Sherman Bleakney's book

January 21, 2002
From: Nishina Masayoshi

Dear Bill,
I have recently started to reading a book Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine by J. Sherman Bleakney. I was a little disappointed when I took this book in my hand first because there is no color photo.

This little cheap book is almost a kind of unknown book among Japanese sea slug enthusiasts because of no photo. However when once I started to read this, I noticed that this book include excellent information on sea slugs and the history that I did not know.

When I first started to post my messages to your forum, I thought that the study of these animals was already well established. So I was surprised each time you said "we know little about this species..." But now I know why you say so. From this book. I couldn't imagine that the classified study of the sea slug is in so much confusion. And I now know that as a diver I will be able to make worthwhile contributions to this study.

Unfortunately, it is bit hard to read this book. Maybe it is OK for English speaking people. Maybe J. Sherman Bleakney tried to make the text and description easier for non scientist, but the colloquial style text is rather say difficult to understand for me. However, again, this is a wonderful book no matter how difficult it is to read and understand. I would like to complete reading this book.

Best Regards,
Nishina Masayoshi

Masayoshi, N., 2002 (Jan 21) Reading Sherman Bleakney's book . [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Nishina,
As you will see in HREF="brbleak1.htm">my review of this book, I fully support your comments. I am surprised it not more widely known as it is full of interesting information. I am glad you found it so interesting and I am pleased that it made you realise how valuable your observations are to increasing out knowledge of these fascinating animals.
Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W B., 2002 (Jan 21). Comment on Reading Sherman Bleakney's book by Nishina Masayoshi. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada

July 31, 2000
From: Bill Rudman

Here is a review of J. Sherman Bleakney's Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine.

Bill Rudman.

Rudman, W.B., 2000 (Jul 31) Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from