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Chromodoris aspersa

Species Profile

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Chromodoris aspersa

Author: (Gould, 1852)

Order: Nudibranchia  Family: Chromodorididae

Maximum Size: 40 mm

Sightings: Sunshine Coast; Milne Bay, PNG


Chromodoris aspersa (Gould, 1852)

The shape is elongate-oval and low in profile, in the Chromodoris manner, with the foot (tail) extending significantly posterior to the overhanging mantle. The smooth mantle of Chromodoris aspersa is white with many dark purple spots all over, some spots larger than others. Each spot is in the centre of, usually, an unpigmented “halo”, however, the “halo” may be faintly purple or (rarely) brownish. The sides of the body and dorsal surface of the tail can also carry these spots. The mantle edge carries a narrow orange to yellow band, but this may at times, be lacking. The very tip of the tail may exhibit a trace of orange/yellow. The rhinophore stalks are translucent and the lamellate clubs straw to orange coloured, sometimes vividly so. The gills are translucent with a straw to orange tint. Gill branches form a complete circle around the anus and tend to sit upright when extended.

The combination of haloed purple spots with an orange/yellow mantle margin is diagnostic. It is one of the very few Chromodoris species without the distinctive longitudinal black lines on the mantle.

Chromodoris aspersa is a spongivore, possibly associated with Thorectidae sponges.

Like all the Chromodoris, spawn is laid as a planar (flat) spiral of up to six whorls upon the substrate. It is of a straw to pale yellow colouration and extra-capsular yolk has been reported scattered throughout.

Most usually found under rocks or dead coral plates, not often seen out in the open. (Personal observations) Found in both subtidal and intertidal habitats.

Distribution is very broad tropical Indo-Pacific – Red Sea to Hawaii. Reported as far south as Jervis Bay on the southern NSW coast of Australia.

– Originally described as Doris aspersa.
– Synonyms include: Doris amabilis Kelaart, 1858; Chromodoris inornata Pease, 1871; Doris punctulifera Bergh, 1874; Chromodoris pallescens Bergh, 1875.
– It is the Glossodoris inornata of Allan, 1947 and the Chromodoris inornata of Willan & Coleman, 1984.

David A. Mullins – December 2023

– Gould, A. A. (1852). Mollusca and shells. In: United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842 under the command of Charles Wilkes. Boston. 12: 1-510; atlas 1856: 1-16.

– Allan, J. (1947). Nudibranchia from the Clarence River Heads, north coast, New South Wales. Records of the Australian Museum, 21: 433- 463.

– Rudman, W. B. (1983). The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: Chromodoris splendida, C. aspersa and Hypselodoris placida colour groups. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 78: 105-173.

– Willan, R. C. & Coleman, N. (1984). Nudibranchs of Australia, Neville Coleman, AMPI: 18-19.

– Rudman, W. B. (1998, June 11) Chromodoris aspersa (Gould, 1852). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from and associated messages.

– Marshall, J.G., Willan, R.C. (1999). Nudibranchs of Heron Island, Great Barrier Reef: A survey of the Opisthobranchia (sea slugs) of Heron and Wistari Reefs; Backhuys: Leiden, The Netherlands, 1999.

– Wilson, N. G. (2002). Egg Masses of Chromodorid Nudibranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia). Malacologia, 2002, 44(2): 289-305.

– Nakano, R. (2004). Opisthobranchs of Japan Islands. Rutles, Inc., Tokyo, Japan.

– Wilson, N. G. & Lee, M. S. Y. (2005). Molecular Phylogeny of Chromodoris (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) and the identification of a planar spawning clade. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36: 722–727.

– Rudman, W. B., Bergquist, P. R. (2007). A review of feeding specificity in the sponge-feeding Chromodorididae (Nudibranchia: Mollusca). Molluscan Research, 27(2): 60-88.

– Debelius, H & Kuiter, R. H. (2007). Nudibranchs of the World. IKAN.

– Yonow, N. (2008). Sea Slugs of the Red Sea. Pensoft, Sofia, Bulgaria.

– Coleman, N. (2008). Nudibranchs Encyclopedia. Neville Coleman’s Underwater Geographic Pty Ltd, Springwood, Qld.

– Herve J. (2010). Guide des Nudibranches de Nouvelle-Caledonie et autres Opisthobranches, Editions Catherine Ledru.

– Johnson, R. F., Gosliner, T. M. (2012). Traditional taxonomic groupings mask evolutionary history: A molecular phylogeny and new classification of the chromodorid nudibranchs. PLoS One 7 (4): e33479.

– Tibirica, Y., Pola, M. & Cervera, J. L. (2017). Astonishing diversity revealed: an annotated and illustrated inventory of Nudipleura (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) from Mozambique. Zootaxa 4359 (1): 001-133.

– Nimbs, M.J., Smith, S.D.A. (2017). An illustrated inventory of the sea slugs of New South Wales, Australia (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia). Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 128: 44-113.

– Gosliner, T. M., Valde ́s, A ́. & Behrens, D. W. (2018). Nudibranch & Sea Slug Identification – Indo-Pacific, 2nd Edition. New World Publications, Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

Other Sea Slugs in this Family (sighted)

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