complete coverage check out the SEA
SLUGS OF HAWAII WEBSITE
Pittman and Pauline Fiene
This site blows all others, including this one, out of the water.
Cory and Pauline have found and photographed hundreds and hundreds of
Many are new discoveries and most are not in any of the books. Check it
Hawai`i section of Scott Johnson's website: http://www.underwaterkwaj.com/nudi/hawaii/hawaii.htm
Stender's website has lots of Hawai`i opisthobranchs.
Exciting news for slug enthusiasts!
Cory Pittman has determined that there may be three
species of umbrella slugs in Hawai`i.
Ardeadoris scottjohnsoni Bertsch & Gosliner, 1989
Rare in most years, populations of this beautiful slug seems to
have bloomed in 2008. Rob Whitton videoed this one at about 50 ft.
along the wall at the Haleiwa Trench, Oahu, and sent me this frame.
The species was named after Scott Johnson, co-author of the pioneering
1981 book Hawaiian Nudibranchs (in which it appears as Chromodoris
sibogae). It is known primarily from the Hawaiian Islands, but
has also been found in Okinawa. You can read more about it here:
Hoplodoris grandiflora (Pease, 1860)
Bruce Mundy sent me this photo, stating: "I found the animal
at night on June 11 in the shallow lagoon of Hanauma Bay a few yards
off the beach. It was crawling in about two feet of water on the
top of a foot high rock on the edge of the sand. The animal was
about the size of quarter." I forwarded Bruce's message to
Cory Pittman, who identified the slug. It has a flat, oval body
covered with round tubercles. Color is brown.
Hypselodoris violabranchia Gosliner & Johnson 1999
I found this slug while
diving at Molokini at the end of August 2005. Depth was about 40
ft. It has a whitish body marked with fine white lines and diffuse
pale spots. The rhinophores and gills are violet, and there are
violet marginal bands around the head and tail (which is not visible
in this photo. I had never seen this species before, but I dive
mostly on O`ahu; perhaps it is more common on Maui. Species of Hypselodoris
often have many fine white lines running lengthwise along the body.
This is one of three in Hawaiian waters with such lines. H. peasei
(listed as H. andersoni in the original ed. my book) and
H. insulana are the other two. The latter is known only from
the Northwest Hawaiian Islands and is not in my book. Mike Miller's
Slugsite has a
good photo of it.
photo: Midway Atoll
This beautiful nudibranch is not uncommon
at Midway Atoll in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. It is undescribed
and seems related to a group of similar nudibranchs marked with red
reticulations. Recently, Anthony Kuntz found one at Lehua Islet, off
Ni`ihau, the first known sighting in the main Hawaiian Islands. More
information is available on seaslugsofhawaii.com.
sp. #1 (previously: Fryeria sp.)
I have seen this unnamed slug a couple
of times, once on mixed sand and hard substrate at about 40 ft. off
the Sheraton at Ka`anapali, Maui, and the rest on hard substrate off
O`ahu and the Big Island between 40-80 ft.
resemblance to the much more common Phyllidia varicosa is striking--undoubtedly
some sort of mimicry is involved. One way to tell the two apart is
to look at the underside. P. varicosa always has a dark line
running the length of the foot; this species does not. Keep tuned!
photo: Ka`anapali, Maui. 40 ft.
Phyllidia exquisita (Brunckhorst, 1993)
Here is another apparent mimic of the
common Phyllidia varicosa. Tina Owens writes:
" I was looking through a bunch of boxes
of slides I haven't put away yet and found these two again. They are
of the same critter, and I took them because it didn't look quite
like a normal phyllidia. The markings are much more sparse that the
average P. varicosa and they're not quite symmetrical. Also
there is a distinct yellow band around the mantle margin. I turned
it over but the photo of that didn't turn out well enough, but the
underside was a yellowish-gray, no stripe and had that yellow margin
on the underside as well (as best I remember it). It was average size
(a little more than an inch long) so it wasn't a juvenile. Found south
of Au Au, Big Island of Hawaii, 25 ft. of water."
Phyllidiopsis fissurata Brunckhorst, 1993
While diving at Pupukea on the north
shore of O`ahu during the summer of 2000, I saw what I took to be
several abnormally large Phyllidiella pustulosa. At about
2 inches, they were twice as large as usual for this species in
Hawai`i. Although I had plenty of shots of this common slug, I finally
photographed one of these big guys just for the record. Still not
suspecting that it might be something else, I emailed Pauline Fiene
and Cory Pittman to see if they had observed any extra large 2-inch
pustulosa on Maui. They had not, but Cory remembered a slide
taken years ago by Scott Johnson during his Hawai`i days. Scott
had been going through his old slides, thought this one might be
Phyllidiopsis fissurata (which had not been described when
Scott took the photo and which would be a new record for Hawaii),
and had emailed a scan to Cory. Cory recognized my scan as similar
to Scott's. Scott was right--the animals most closely resemble Phyllidiopsis
fissurata, which has a black ground color with high pink tubercles
instead of the lower, rounded tubercles typical of P. pustulosa.
Also, the back and top of the rhinophores is black, the lower front
pink, and the margin of the head is banded pink and black. (Brunckhorst
records the rhinophores as pink with a black tip and a black line
down the posterior edge, so the Hawaii species might be slightly
different.) Brunckhorst records the species from the central Great
Barrier Reef, Fiji and Lord Howe Island. Scott has also seen what
he believes to be this species in the Marshall Islands. The Sea
Slug Forum also records it from the Philippines and Vanuatu.
Heidi Miller sent me this photo of
a pair of nudibranchs laying eggs. She found them on the YO 257
off Waikiki at about 70-80 ft. I sent the photo to Cory Pittman
who wrote: "I think these are large Diversidoris flava.
They get pretty "frilly" when scrunched up on their host
sponge" This species, previously known as Noumea flava,
is apparently seen more often around Maui than O`ahu. Other photos
of these slugs on the web do not show such a frilly edge.
varians (Pease, 1871)
tiny slug, previously known as Noumea varians, was less than
1/2 in. long. I photographed it in the boat channel at Magic Island,
O`ahu, at about 30 ft. In this species the central white line is
always discontinuous. It has an Indo-Pacific distribution. (Verconia
sp. 4 is similar but the central white line is always continuous.)
about the "Noumea purpurea color group" on Bill Rudman's
Sea Slug Forum.
maculatus (Pease, 1860)
This pale, translucent slug exhibits
little color except for some irregular patches of orange and yellow.
It is nocturnal and, according to Bertsch and Johnson, the patches
sometimes emit a bioluminescent glow when the animal is disturbed.
Described from the Hawaiian Islands, the species has also been found
in Sodwana Bay, South Africa. Debelius records it from Shark Bay,
Western Australia. It probably feeds on bryozoans. This specimen was
photographed in a cave at night at South Point, Hawai`i, the southernmost
point in the United States. Depth was about 20 ft. (6 m.).
Phyllidiopsis cardinalis (Bergh, 1875)
Unlike most slugs of the genera Phyllidia
and Phyllidiopsis, this species is inconspicuous and even
well-camouflaged on certain substrates. However, it has the typical
leathery body and firm tubercles as others in its family. The entire
underside is yellow.
formosa (Alder & Hancok, 1866) juvenile
Here's another unusual nudibranch photographed
in Kona by Tina Owens. Tina sent the photo to me but I didn't know
what it was. I passed it on to Cory Pittman, who quickly identified
it as a juvenile Speckled Platydoris Platydora formosa. There
is a photo of the adult in my book. It's not as pretty as the juvenile.
albopurpura Burn, 1957
Tina Owens found this beautiful 3-inch
slug off Kona in December 2003 and sent the photo to Dr. Bill Rudman.
He identified it and said that it's definitely a new record for the
Hawaiian Islands. See the Sea
carbunculosa (Kelaart, 1858)
This large nudibranch has recently been
reported from Hawaii by several divers. It is easily confused with
Dendrodoris tuberculosa. The easiest way to tell them apart
is to examine the underside: This species is plain brown or gray underneath,
whereas tuberculosa has large white oval spots. Clean your
hands well if you handle this animal and don't touch your face afterward--there
are reports that its mucus can cause painful burning sensations. In
other parts of the Indo-Pacific these animals can attain a huge size--up
to about 15 inches. Champion slug hunter Tina Owens took the photo
off Kona in September 2003. See her posting on Dr. Rudman's website
Jerry Kane's photo of a juvenile
D. carbunculosa on Mike Miller's Slugsite.
misidentified it as tuberculosa when I posted to the Slugsite
some years ago, and it's probably still mis-labeled.)
quadrispinosum Gosliner, 1989
These colorful slugs are bright yellow
with red rhinophores and a red "flagellum." They live on
sand bottoms and are sometimes superabundant. Most divers never see
them, though, because they are only a few millimeters long. (Notice
the size of the sand grains compared to the slug!) The species is
known to date from Hawaii, New Guinea, New Caledonia, Australia, and
Japan. Teri Stewart took this photo at 55 ft. in the sand channel
near Reef's End, at Molokini, Maui. She also finds them at about 30
ft. at Ulua Beach, Maui. The similar Siphopteron flavum (yellow
with black markings) also occurs in Hawai`i.
This slug, with its characteristic
dark central dark spot, was on the sponge-covered roof of a cave
at the Halona Blowhole, O`ahu. Depth was about 15 ft. More information
available on Dr. Bill Rudman's Sea
Chelidonura alisonae Gosliner, 2011.
This recently-described headshield slug
resembles the Blue Swallowtail Slug Chelidonura hirundinina but
has blue spots instead of blue lines. Both can
be found along the margins of the boat channel at Magic Island, O`ahu,
in several feet of water.
Notarchus indicus Schweiger, 1820
This sea hare is orange-yellow with scattered small
black spots and a short tail visible only when the slug stretches
out. It has scattered papillae with whitish tips. The parapodia are
fused and thus not obvious. In
its normal resting position it appears round except for the head.
It has the habit of squirting water from the orifice on its back as
if trying to propel itself down and backwards. Darrell Takaoka collected
it in 2 feet of water on seaweed covered rock at Ala Moana Beach Park,
more about it here.
orientalis (Kelaart, 1858)
This unusual sacoglossan (member of
the order Sacoglossa, popularly known as sap sucking slugs) is usually
found under slabs but occasionally ventures into the open. It's many
leaflike cerata detach easily and are very sticky, no doubt a defensive
mechanism. Read more about it on Dr. Rudman's Sea