Solar-powered sea slug (Elysia viridis)
|Researched by||Sonia Rowley||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||-||Synonyms||-|
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandThis species probably distributed throughout the British Isles, although most records are from the western coats.
HabitatThis species can be found on the underside of macroalgal fronds in shallow water and rock pools. Elysia viridis feeds usually on Codium sp. or Cladophora sp. in European waters.
- Body up to 5 cm long.
- Commonly vivid green, occasionally bright red or brown.
- Tiny glistening red, blue or green spots.
- Enrolled rhinophores.
- Parapodia broad and extends most of body length.
- Lateral parapodial 'wings' outstretched or folded over dorsum.
Additional informationElysia viridis is very similar to the sea hare in its soft winged body and colouration, although Elysia sp. is flatter with no oral tentacles. Elysia viridis is known as a 'sap-sucking slug' and feeds only on a single or limited food source (stenophagous). It ingests the chloroplasts unharmed and uses them for photosynthesis which benefit the slugs food supply (a process known as klepoplasty). Chloroplasts account for the colouration of the animal.
This species has a 12-15 month life-span and is sexually mature when 1.2 cm in length. It produces benthic egg masses from April to October which hatch as planktonic veligers. This species may also tolerate low salinity levels.
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Last Updated: 19/09/2006