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Doriopsilla carneola (Family Dendrodorididae)




Doriopsilla ranges from northern New South Wales around the southern shores to Cape Naturaliste in south-western Australia. (NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA)


Doriopsilla is an oval shaped mollusc without a visible shell. Its body is flattened, but has a wide mantle overhang. The body is firm on top due to a dense spicular mat within the skin, which also has a sandpaper-like or granule-covered texture. The tail is short and rounded. The mantle is covered with low bumps called papillose or pustulose, because they look like pimples. The five gills (branchiae) are split into three.

The colour is variable. This shell-less mollusc may in colour be a dark reddish-brown, dull orange, pink, yellow or cream, sometimes with white speckling, or patches. Other colour forms range from dark red with a red foot, red with a white foot, or all white. There may be a series of white patches on each side of the mid-line. The chemical-detecting rhinopores (tentacles) and the gills are usually the same colour as the upper surface.

Ecology/Way of Life:

Doriopsilla usually occurs under sponge-covered boulders and stones at the lowest tide levels and below to 55 metres, or in rock pools. It is more frequently found in semi-protected areas. In some areas it may be locally common.

This species lays a gelatinous egg mass under rocks or on algae. The egg mass forms a girdle 5 cm in diameter and 1 cm deep. The girdle is attached to the surface by one edge. Its top is slightly splayed outwards. A transparent jelly contains hundreds of small spherical yellow eggs, about 0.25mm diameter, packed tightly in irregular vertical rows. As the jelly disintegrates small crawling veligers that are 0.8mm long break out from the egg capsules (Shepherd & Thomas, p. 770).

Preferred Image

Interaction with Humans/Threats:

This species appears to be common in a range of locations so does not appear to be under threat.

Further Reading:

Burn, R. (1969). A memorial eport on the Tom Crawford collection of Victorian Opisthobranchia. J. Malac. Soc. Aust., 1(12), pp. 64-106.

Davey, K. (1988). A Photographic Guide to Seashore Life of Australia. p. 121, New Holland Press.

Macpherson, J.H. & Gabriel, C.J. (1962). Marine Molluscs of Victoria. p. 256, Melbourne Univ. Press.

Marine Research Group of Victoria. (1984). Coastal Invertebrates of Victoria: an atlas of selected species. p. 73, Museum of Victoria.

Shepherd, S.A. & Thomas, I.M. (1989). Marine Invertebrates of Southern Australia. pt. II. p. 769, South Aust. Govt. Press.


Text, map & photograph by Keith Davey.

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Images and Multi-media:  
Attached Image  
image/jpeg 18780 bytes Doriopsilla
Distribution Map  
image/gif 1038 bytes Distribution of Doriopsilla

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