NE Pacific from British Columbia, Canada to California, USA.
Esquimalt Lagoon, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. NE Pacific Ocean. Length: 35 mm. September 2005. intertidal, eel grass beds. Photographer: Nicole LaForge
This greatly modified shape of this relatively small Sea Hare, makes it almost invisible on the leaves of the sea grass Zostera. The name Phyll [= leaf] aplysia is highly appropriate. In external shape, the head has the typical 2 pairs of tentacles [see Aplysioidea head Fact Sheet]. However the parapodia are greatly reduced in size, reduced to a small right flap between the inhalant and exhalant openings [see Aplysioidea mantle Fact Sheet. The genital opening is just in front of the inhalant opening, and from it, the sperm groove runs forward to the penial sac just below the right rhinophore.
The animal is usually bright green with a pattern of white longitudinal lines, outlined with black, and a pattern of transverse black lines, which can be either solid, or broken in to a row of black dots. Colour does vary, and in some specimens, most of the black pigmentation is absent. It feeds by grazing the film of organisms, mainly diatoms, off sea grass leaves, leaving a characteristic feeding scar on the leaves. As well as being camouflaged by its shape and colour, it also orients its body lengthwise along the Zostera leaves. Although it can grow to 8 cm in length, it is usually half that size. It has also been known as Phyllaplysia zostericola McCauley, 1960.
Beeman, R. D. (1970) The anatomy and functional morphology of the reproductive system in the opisthobranch mollusk Phyllaplysia taylori Dall, 1900. The Veliger, 13: 1-31.
Beeman, R. D. (1968) The Order Anaspidea. The Veliger, 3, Supplement: 87-102.
Beeman, R. D. (1963) Variation and synonymy of Phyllaplysia in the Northeastern Pacific (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia). The Veliger, 6: 43-47.
Rudman, W.B., 2005 (October 22) Phyllaplysia taylori Dall, 1900. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/phyltayl
September 21, 2009
From: Jeff Goddard
Concerning message #22574:
Those are indeed the eggs of Phyllaplysia taylori in Ken-ichi's image. They match what I have observed on Zostera in Morro Bay, CA and also match the written descriptions of Bertsch & Hirshberg (1973) and Bridges (1975) of the egg mass of this species. The eggs do not appear as dense as those of the more southerly P. padinae because they are much larger and develop directly into juveniles, while those of P. padinae develop into much smaller, planktotrophic veliger larvae.
Bertsch, H. and J. Hirshberg. 1973. Notes on the veliger of the opisthobranch Phyllaplysia taylori. The Tabulata (Santa Barbara Malacological Society), 6: 3-5.
Bridges, C. B. 1975. Larval development of Phyllaplysia taylori Dall, with a discussion of development in the Anaspidea (Opisthobranchia: Anaspidea). Ophelia 14: 161-184.
firstname.lastname@example.orgGoddard, J.H.R., 2009 (Sep 21) Re: Phyllaplysia taylori (and eggs?) from Tomales Bay, California. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/22665
September 10, 2009
From: Ken-ichi Ueda
I recently went snorkeling in Tomales Bay in search of Phyllaplysia taylori, and I found it! I also found some eggs, that look similar to the eggs of P. padinae, so I was wondering if these were P. taylori's eggs. They don't look nearly as dense, but they do look like they were deposited in the same zig-zag pattern.
Locality: Marshall's Beach, Tomales Bay, < 1 m, California, USA, Pacific Ocean, 29 June 2009, eel grass bed. Length: 5 cm. Photographer: Ken-ichi Ueda.
email@example.comUeda, K.M., 2009 (Sep 10) Phyllaplysia taylori (and eggs?) from Tomales Bay, California. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/22574
These could well be the eggs of P. taylori. Surprisingly, in Beeman's exhaustive studies of this species and its reproductive system he did not include a photo or drawing of the egg mass of this species. This is certainly the right shape, but it would be nice to get confirmation from someone who has seen it actually laying its egg mass.
June 2, 2008
From: Leo Shaw
Concerning message #15094:
Anyone have images of eggs of Taylor's sea hare? And can you identify these eggs?
firstname.lastname@example.orgShaw, L., 2008 (Jun 2) Egg ribbon of Phyllaplysia taylori. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/21589
Phyllaplysia taylori has a flattened egg ribbon similar to that of Phyllaplysia padinae [message #7420] rather than the tangled mass produced by many sea hares. In her message [#15094], Nicole mentions that the 'eggs are small flat and yellowish', by which I guess she means the eggs are yellow and encased in a flattened egg ribbon. It would certainly be nice to have a photo on the Forum of its egg ribbon.
October 24, 2005
From: Nicole LaForge
I noticed that your species list was lacking Phyllaplysia taylori, a rather attractive species from the northeast Pacific.
Locality: Esquimalt Lagoon, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. NE Pacific Ocean. Length: 35 mm. September 2005. intertidal, eel grass beds. Photographer: Nicole LaForge
We happened to have a few of these critters in the lab, as they were collected by Dr. Louise Page in the hopes that they would lay some egg masses for study. They are quite cryptic on the eelgrass (Zostera marina) where they are usually found, and they did lay egg masses on the Zostera. I didn't get pictures of the eggs, but the masses are small, flat and yellowish in colour. I have really been enjoying your web site; what a great resource!
email@example.comLaForge, N.L., 2005 (Oct 24) Phyllaplysia taylori from British Columbia. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/15094
Thanks for this addition to the Forum. I remember being fascinated by this species when Bob Beeman sent me a reprint of his paper on the Californian anaspideans (Beeman, 1968). I spent many hours unsuccessfully trying to find a southern counterpart in the Zostera beds of New Zealand.
I have added a grey version of your photo alongside for those who don't realise this is a strange Sea Hare, which has a greatly modified shape so it can hide on sea grass leaves. The name Phyll [= leaf] aplysia is highly appropriate. In external shape, the head has the typical 2 pairs of tentacles [see Aplysioidea head Fact Sheet]. However the parapodia are very reduced [see Aplysioidea mantle cavity Fact Sheet] - they have been reduced to a small right flap between the inhalant and exhalant openings. The genital opening is just in front of the inhalant opening, and from it, the sperm groove runs forward to the penial sac just below the right rhinophore, as in other sea hares.