Baptodoris mimetica from California

March 19, 2009
From: Brenna Green

Concerning message #13888:

While diving last July in the California Channel Islands, I came across a large number of what I initially thought were Doriopsilla albopunctata, except that I thought some of the slugs looked "a little different": more opaque color to the dorsum, and with erect branchial plumes. Thought there might be some Baptodoris mimetica mixed in with the Doriopsilla.

I checked the ventral side of a few of these individuals, and sure enough, they had labial tentacles. I managed to get a photo of one showing the tentacles in an anterior view, instead of the usual ventral shot.

Locality: Flame Reef, Santa Cruz Island, Northern Channel Islands, 15 meters, California, USA, Pacific Ocean, 5 July, 2008, kelp forest, rock & sand bottom. Length: apprx. 60 mm. Photographer: Brenna Green.

Brenna Green

Green, B., 2009 (Mar 19) Baptodoris mimetica from California. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

Dear Brenna,

Your message is a great example of the importance of having a look and, preferably, photographing the underside of dorids.For those of you unfamiliar with the anatomy of dendrodorids, they all have a rather modified 'head' in which the 'head - mouth' region is linked to the leading edge of the foot and the oral tentacles, which sit on each side of the head in other dorids, are absent. Dendrodorids and phyllidiids feed by exudung salivary juices on to their sponge prey and sucking the half-digested slurry back into their gut. I suspect the strange 'head - mouth' arrangement helps to form a seal to prevent the slurry being washed away as this all happens outside the body in the open water. As you can see in Brenna's photo, her animal has a normal dorid head with an oral tentacle on each side, showing that it is not a Doriopsilla and must be the almost identically coloured Baptodoris mimetica.

Best wishes,
Bill Rudman

Rudman, W.B., 2009 (Mar 19). Comment on Baptodoris mimetica from California by Brenna Green. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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