Flabellina sp.

Photo courtesy of Webmaster and Dr. Hans Bertsch
La Jolla Shores, La Jolla, Calif

Unidentified Flabellina from California's La Jolla Canyon.

Just when you think that in of the most heavily studied nudibranch areas in the world has been exhausted of new finds, wham bam, here's another new one. And just in time for Christmas.

This weeks species of interest is a beautiful, yet unidentifiable Flabellina. At first glance it was thought to be a pale Flabellina trilineata (O'Donoghue, 1921), but then not. While superficially similar to both Flabellina pricei (MacFarland, 1966) and F. cooperi (Cockerell, 1901) it isn't quite the perfect match with either.

Mike and I queried some of the finest minds in Pacific coast Branchology, but were unsuccessful in drawing a consensus. The dark ceratal cores and white specks suggest F. cooperi. The specimens shown here are lighter in color than Hamann's specimen presented in Pacific Coast Nudibranchs Species # 164, page 83. One problem here is that F. cooperi is extremely rare and most of us have never actually seen a living specimen.

In the words of one expert, the species most closely resembles F. pricei in that the cerata appear to be coming from a raised base, but unlike it in that they appear clustered. I agree, but we are still no closer to positive ID.

Hans and Mike's specimens were photographed in the La Jolla Canyon of San Diego County, California at a depth of about 45 feet. One specimen was observed to be feeding on the pink hydroid Tubularia, the recorded food of F. cooperi, but one fed on by several Flabellinid species. The official decree of course awaits dissection of the radula and reproductive system of a collected specimen .

Well, the best and warmest of Christmas cheer to each and every one of you. May you too find a new species be under your Christmas tree.

Dave Behrens
Dec. 99

Webmaster's Note: I would like to acknowledge the efforts of other members of SDUPS who actively contributed in documenting the the presence of this new comer to the shores. In particular I am thinking about Tracy Clark, Garry McCarthy, Steve Gardner, and Herb Gruenhagen. Last but not least ,I would like to mention my infatiguable dive buddy, Dr. Hans Bertsch. Hans and I were actually looking for specimens of Armina californica one Sunday morning at the shores to photograph in conjunction with sea pansies, when we stumbled across a pretty healthy specimen of the Flabellina sp. munching on Tubularia. Such is the vagarities of science at times I suppose!

Update 01/23/00 Sandra Millen at UBC has unmasked the identity of our unknown and identified it as Flabellina cooperi, a seldom seen branch (at least in the San Diego area). Thanks Sandra for the expedious effort in solving this mystery!

Taxonomic information courtesy of Dave Behrens

David W. Behrens

Dave and Diana, of Sea Challengers Natural History Books, would like to wish all their Slug Site viewing buddies a warm and wonderful Holiday Season. They invite you to visit their on-line bookstore where they are offering a Christmas Special on four of the most beautiful underwater art books available today. This is a great opportunity to grab that last minute gift for your dive partner or slug buddy.

Holiday Specials - 10% off Regular Prices - Order 2 or more of these books - 20% off Regular prices:

Coral Seas by Roger Steene
Item #111S - Regularly $55.00
Secret Seas by Burt Jones and Maurine Shimlock
Item #232JS - Regularly $39.95
Blue Wilderness by Ron & Valerie Taylor
Item #99T - Regularly $39.95
The Coral Reefs of Papua New Guinea by Dinah & Bob Halstead and Sergio Sarta
Item #234HH - Regularly $55.00

Author: Pacific Coast Nudibranchs
Co-Author Coral Reef Animals of the Indo Pacific
Propriator of Sea Challengers Natural History Books !

Send Dave mail at seachalleng@earthlink.net

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