MarLIN

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

Royal flush sea slug (Akera bullata)

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

Researched bySaskiya Richards Refereed byAdmin
AuthorityO. F. Müller, 1776
Other common names- Synonyms-

Summary

Description

Akera bullata is a sea slug that reaches up to 6 cm in length and bears an external shell coloured white to pale brown. The shell is oval-shaped with a flattened tip and up to 6 whorls. The aperture of the shell is almost as long as the length of the shell itself. The well-developed head is marked anteriorly by an indent to give a tongue-like appearance, and extends into a pair of wide, lateral, flat, tentacular lobes. It bears lateral eyes, lacks an operculum and is coloured with blotched, purplish-brown streaks. The body is pale grey to orange but darker on the outer mantle surface and is marked by white or dark spots. The base of the body bears a very large foot that extends into two large lobed parapodia capable of encasing the dorsal and lateral region of the shell. In some individuals a short, white tentacle extends outwards from the posterior end of the shell.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Akera bullata has been sighted at scattered locations on all British coasts.

Global distribution

The distribution of Akera bullata extends from the North Sea, Denmark, Norway and the Baltic to the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts of France and Spain.

Habitat

Akera bullata inhabits soft, fine mud to muddy sand, in sheltered bays, from the lower shore to 370 m. It is often found with Zostera marina.

Depth range

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Identifying features

  • Oval shaped shell that is flattened tip and has up to 6 whorls.
  • Shell is up to 4 cm long and coloured white to pale brown.
  • Shell aperture almost as long as shell length.
  • Head indented anteriorly, bears wide, flat lobes and marked with purplish-brown streaks.
  • Body pale grey to orange and up to 6 cm in length.
  • Base of body extends into two very large lobed parapodia.

Additional information

Akera bullata is herbivorous during the summer but feeds on sediment throughout the rest of the year. It is capable of swimming by use of its large, lobed parapodia. When disturbed it may excrete a purple coloured fluid from glands within the mantle. It reproduces throughout April to July.

Listed by

- none -

Further information sources

Search on:

NBN WoRMS

Bibliography

  1. Costello, M.J., Bouchet, P., Boxshall, G., Emblow, C. & Vanden Berghe, E., 2004. European Register of Marine Species [On-line]. http://www.marbef.org/data/erms.php,

  2. Crothers, J. A., 1997. A key to the major groups of British marine invertebrates. Field Studies, 9, 1-177.

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

  4. Foster-Smith, J. (ed.), 2000. The marine fauna and flora of the Cullercoats District. Marine species records for the North East Coast of England. Sunderland: Penshaw Press, for the Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle upon Tyne.

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

  6. Hayward, P.J. & Ryland, J.S. (ed.) 1995b. Handbook of the marine fauna of North-West Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  7. 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.]

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

  9. Morton, J.E., & Holme, N.A., 1955. The occurrence at Plymouth of the opisthobranch Akera bullata, with notes on its habits and relationships. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 34(1), 101-112.

  10. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  11. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin., http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/

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

  13. Thompson, T.E. & Seaward, D.R. 1989. Ecology and taxonomic status of the aplysiomorph Akera bullata in the British Isles. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 55, 489-496.

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

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Richards, S. 2007. Akera bullata Royal flush 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/25

Last Updated: 12/09/2007