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Chromodoris kuiteri

Species Profile

Chromodoris kuiteri

Author: Rudman, 1982

Order: Nudibranchia  Family: Chromodorididae

Maximum Size: 120 mm

Sightings: Sunshine Coast

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Chromodoris kuiteri Rudman, 1982

Chromodoris kuiteri is a large species of cryptobranch nudibranch and one of a group of similarly coloured and patterned species. At certain times and sites it can be commonly encountered.

The primary mantle colour is black. There are four white or very pale blue longitudinal lines. These are narrow and most usually form an inner and outer loop. The innermost loop passes from anterior of and between the rhinophores posteriorly to encircle the gills and then continues as a single line. The outer loop runs sub-marginally around the whole mantle. Both loops are contained entirely within the basal black colour. These lines are usually continuous but may be broken or even overlapping. The mantle margin carries a wide orange band and the border between black and orange is not distinct but is instead rather diffuse. The edge of the foot has a much similar appearance to the edge of the mantle, the remainder being black as are the sides of the body that also carry, on average, three white lines. The lamellate rhinophores and large gills are also orange but can sometimes be of a darker (richer) shade compared to the mantle margin. Both gill and rhinophore pockets carry rims of an orange colouration. The arrangement of the gills is that of a semicircle around the anus, the open portion facing posteriorly, but each end then recurves to form a spiral on each side. A high concentration of small dentritic defensive mantle glands containing noxious/poisonous chemicals sequestered/metabolised from their sponge prey are located in a band submarginally around the mantle edge.

Chromodoris kuiteri feeds upon Dysidea species of sponge.

The spawn is pale orange and is laid as a flat (planar) spiral of from two to five whorls. There is no extra-capsular yoke. The veligers are planktonic.

Normally sighted in the 50 to 70 mm size range but I have recorded one large specimen at 120 mm in length on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

It is sometimes confused with the similar looking Chromodoris magnifica (which has no black diffusing into the orange and possesses a narrow white marginal band), Chromodoris africana (no black diffusing into the orange marginal band) and Chromodoris quadricolor (no black diffusing into the orange, a very thin white marginal band and the black appears to be arranged into three broad bands). Also, these last two species have an East African, Red Sea and Western Indian Ocean distribution. The first impression received on sighting Chromodoris kuiteri is that of a predominately black species and that, combined with the diffusion of the black into the orange margin usually helps to settle any confusion.

As mentioned, it is one of a group of related species with contrasting longitudinal lines down the notum and although the colours and arrangement of these vary it is thought that it represents an aposematic or warning pattern they all share to “teach” predators of their noxious nature.

Distribution is limited to the coastal waters and offshore reefs of Queensland and New South Wales of Eastern Australia and also Lord Howe Island. I am not entirely convinced that a few reports from Western Australia represent this species.

References:
– Rudman, W.B. (1982) The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: Chromodoris quadricolor, C. lineolata and Hypselodoris nigrolineata colour groups. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 76: 183-241.

– Rudman, W.B. 1984. The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: a review of the genera. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 81: 115-273.

– Willan, R.C. & Coleman, N. (1984). Nudibranchs of Australia, Neville Coleman, AMPI: 28-29

– 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.

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

– 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.

– This Species Profile has been modified from:
– Opisthobranch of the Week, Week #844, Chromodoris kuiteri (02/09/2013), Mike Miller’s slugsite.tierranet.com by David A. Mullins
– A previously published article in Dive Log Magazine’s – Critter ID with NudiNotes Column, Issue: #352 (November 2017): 12 by David A. Mullins

David A. Mullins, December 2019

Other Sea Slugs in this Family (sighted)

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