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

A nudibranch (Ancula gibbosa)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.
Only coastal and marine records shown



Ancula gibbosa is a translucent cream or white nudibranch reaching lengths of up to 33 mm. The rhinophores and gills have coloured tips; the tips of the pallial and rhinophoral processes are usually bright yelllow or orange, rarely white. The foot margins may also be yellow. The rhinophores have crinkly stalks which are cylindrical in the region of the lamellae and swollen medially. Elongate processes issue from the rhinophore stalk rather than from the head, and the oral tentacles are also elongate and finger like.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found all around the British Isles.

Global distribution



Ancula gibbosa may be found under rocks in shallow water and offshore to around 110 m. Known to eat the colonial ascidians Diplosoma listerianum, Botryllus schlosseri and Botrylloides leachi, Ancula gibbosa may also feed on the erect bryozoans with which it is commonly found.

Depth range


Identifying features

  • Translucent cream or white
  • 2 longer processes projecting forward from the base of each rhinophore
  • Several processes at the sides of the gill cluster
  • Orange pigment found in tips of the rhinophores and on tip of tail

Additional information

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Further information sources

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

  2. 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.]

  3. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from:  Accessed 01 April 2017

  4. OBIS,  2018. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. Accessed: 2018-08-17

  5. Picton, B. E. & Morrow, C.C., 1994. A Field Guide to the Nudibranchs of the British Isles. London: Immel Publishing Ltd.

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

  7. Thompson, T.E. & Brown, G.H., 1984. Biology of Opisthobranch Molluscs, vol. II. London: Ray Society.

  8. WoRMS 2007. The World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS)., 2008-10-31


This review can be cited as:

Sweet, N. A. 2008. Ancula gibbosa A nudibranch. 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. [cited 17-08-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 06/08/2008