Tritonia hamnerorum

Courtesy of Anne Dupont

Tritonia hamnerorum was named by Gosliner and Ghiselin in 1987. Mike had first collected specimens of this species in 1985 from Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas. (This locality probably got pretty heavily hammered by Hurricane Floyd. ) The species was named for Mike's old friends, Bill and Peggy Hamner who were with him in the Bahamas A few months later Mike and I were doing some diving in Quintana Roo, Mexico. We were diving in 4 meters of water near the outer edge of the barrier reef. I found a detached gorgonian, Gorgonia flabellum and turned it over only to find 88 individuals of this Tritonia crawling all over the place. This is when we first gave this species the common name of Gorgonian maggot. It is quite pretty in small numbers, but borders on the disgusting when you find them in such densitites. The animals had a quite medicinal smell when we collected them. Mike said they smelled like camphor. At the time we thought they might be interesting chemically since they had such a pungent smell. We were both pleased to learn that they do posess some interesting secondary compounds. It is one of several Caribbean species of Tritonia that are specialist predators of Gorgonians. Tritonia bayeri and T. wellsi are other common Caribbean species that are known to feed on gorgonians. On the Pacific coast, Tritonia festiva,T. pickensi and T. myrakeenae are all predators on gorgonians. Most of the Indo-Pacific species feed on soft corals rather than gorgonians.

Dr. Terry Gosliner
Sept. 1999
San Francisco, Calif

Cronin, G.; Hay, M.E.; Fenical, W.; Lindquist, N. 1995. Distribution, Density, and Sequestration of Host Chemical Defenses by the Specialist Nudibranch
Tritonia hamnerorum Found at High Densities on the Sea Fan Gorgonia ventalina. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 119(1-3):177-189.

Gosliner, T.M.; Ghiselin, M.T. 1987. A new species of Tritonia (Opisthobranchia: Gastropoda) from the Caribbean Sea. Bull. Mar. Sci. 40(3):428-436.

Webmasters Note: For an interesting discussion of a population outbreak of Tritonia hamnerorum in the summer of 1992, see a page courtesy of Dr. Greg Cronin! For the complete article cited in the reference above, see tritonia.pdf. Also want to thank Anne for finding this information!

To contact Dr. Cronin

Anne is a retired IBM instructor whose favorite pursuit is underwater photography. She particularily enjoys photographing invertabrates. Anne has won international awards for her underwater photographs, and has been published in numerous SCUBA diving magazines, and other marine and non-marine related magazines. She also has been published in several books including "Venomous & Toxic Marine Life of the World." Anne and her husband reside in Delray Beach, Florida. When not diving Florida waters, they spend their time diving and cruising the Bahamas on their trawler.

You can drop Anne a note at

Taxonomic information courtesy of:

Dr. Terry Gosliner

California Academy of Sciences

Send Terry mail at

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