MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Yellow-plumed sea slug (Berthella plumula)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

Berthella plumula appears transparent and fragile with an oval, convex body, up to 6 cm in length. The shell is up to 3 cm long but internal, covered by the mantle which overlaps the shell edges. The mantle itself is smooth, and pale yellow to orange in colour, often having net-like markings down the middle. The edge of the mantle may actually be raised on the right side where an elongated gill is situated, for respiration. Its head has a noticeably flat oral veil with enrolled rhinophores (sensory processes). A conspicuous gland (the metapodal gland) develops at the posterior end of the body at a pre-sexual stage when the species is approximately 1.75-3 cm in length. When in danger acid glands in the skin secrete sulphuric acid for protection.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

This species is widely distributed around Britain and Ireland primarily west and south west England; north and southern Wales; Isle of Man; north, west and south west Ireland; north, west and eastern coasts of Scotland.

Global distribution

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Habitat

Berthella plumula is often found under stones, in clear rock pools on the lower shore and shallow water up to 10 m deep. Commonly found on Botryllus schlosseri.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Smooth mantle, pale yellow to orange, often showing reticulate markings in the middle.
  • Body up to 6 cm long.
  • Internal shell up to 3 cm long, completely covered by mantle.
  • Sulphuric acid secreted by acid glands in skin for protection against predators.

Additional information

This is a slow moving opisthobranch and a specialised predator; feeding on compound ascidians. Breeding occurs in spring. Spiralled egg ribbons are attached to rocks, with the larva being planktonic.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Bouchet, P., Danrigal, F. & Huyghens, C., 1978. Living seashells, molluscs of the English channel and Atlantic coasts. Poole: Blandford Press Ltd.

  2. Bruce, J.R., Colman, J.S. & Jones, N.S., 1963. Marine fauna of the Isle of Man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

  3. Crothers, J.H. (ed.), 1966. Dale Fort Marine Fauna. London: Field Studies Council.

  4. Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. 1996. Collins pocket guide. Sea shore of Britain and northern Europe. London: HarperCollins.

  5. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995a. The marine fauna of the British Isles and north-west Europe. Volume 2. Molluscs to Chordates. Oxford Science Publications. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  6. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  7. JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee), 1999. Marine Environment Resource Mapping And Information Database (MERMAID): Marine Nature Conservation Review Survey Database. [on-line] http://www.jncc.gov.uk/mermaid

  8. MBA (Marine Biological Association), 1957. Plymouth Marine Fauna. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

  9. Seaward, D.R., 1982. Sea area atlas of the marine molluscs of Britain and Ireland. Peterborough: Nature Conservancy Council.

  10. Seaward, D.R., 1990. Distribution of marine molluscs of north west Europe. Peterborough: Nature Conservancy Council.

  11. Thompson, T. E. & Brown, G. H., 1976. British Opisthobranch Molluscs. London: Academic Press. [Synopses of the British Fauna, no. 8.]

  12. Thompson, T.E., 1976. Biology of Opisthobranch Molluscs, vol. 1. London: The Ray Society.

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Rowley, S.J. 2004. Berthella plumula Yellow-plumed sea slug. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/2074

Last Updated: 27/08/2004