Philine aperta from east of Cape Town

December 23, 2004
From: Eddie Hardy

I recently acquired the two shells whose images are attached here. The shells were collected in 1981 in Hermanus which is now a well-known tourist resort about 40 miles along the coast east of Cape Town. The collection is not very accurately ID'd so I would appreciate a view on these two shells. They are both about 40mm long.

Locality: Die Plaat, Hermanus, Depth: not known, South Africa. Atlantic Ocean, [Indian Ocean nominally starts 40 miles or so further east]. 1 June 1981. Photographer: Eddie Hardy.

Eddie Hardy

Hardy, J.E., 2004 (Dec 23) Philine aperta from east of Cape Town. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Eddie,
Your shells are probably from Philine aperta. I suspect the apparent difference in shape between the two is just a result of the angle they are photographed at. Macnae (1962) reports it around much of the South African coast from at least Saldanha Bay to Inhaca in Mozambique.

Without a study of its anatomy it's difficult to be 100% sure this species is the same as the common species in Europe and the Mediterranean.There seem to be a group of species around the world with very similarly shaped shells, and similar anatomical characters, such as unequal-sized gizzard plates as described for Philine angasi. It does seem unusual for a European species to also be at home in the Indian Ocean, but it will need someone to have a good look at their anatomy before we can be sure what is going on.

  • Macnae, W. (1962) Tectibranch molluscs from Southern Africa. Annals of the Natal Museum, 15(16): 183 - 199.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2004 (Dec 23). Comment on Philine aperta from east of Cape Town by Eddie Hardy. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from


Philine aperta

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