Armina cygnea

Photo courtesy of Carole Harris and Leon Betts

Armina cygnea (Bergh, 1876)

The Armina's are an interesting group, with a great deal of variation in color and many undescribed species. I believe this terrific shot taken in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is Armina cygnea (Bergh, 1876). Carole and Leon have captured the animal feeding on an erect dendronephthid soft coral, its typical forage.

The following link to Armina cygnea from Bill Rudman's Forum, shows several color phases and a terrific series of shots of the species laying eggs. Bill also points out that it is unusual for Armina to feed on this soft coral group. In Australia it is the members of the genus Dermatobranchus which feed on dendronephthid soft corals, and that Armina, which are a much larger species, 30-100mm long, burrow in sand and sandy mud, emerging at night to feed on sea-pens, a quite different order of octocorals. He also mentions a California species, Armina californica, which puts on a spectacular light show when it is feeding, as the sea pen it feeds on (Renilla koellikeri) produces luminescent flashes every time it is bitten."

Bill reports this species only from Australian waters, so Carole and Leon's photo here, if indeed Armina cygnea constitutes a significant extension to the geographical range of the species.

Dave Behrens
Danville, Calif
Jun. 2001

Carole and Leon live in the United Arab Emirates and have been diving for over 13 years. One of Carole's favourite photography subject is nudibranchs, because as she says, she is almost guaranteed to get a fairly decent shot! Living in the UAE has proved to be a most diverse and unexpected smorgasboard of offerings from a wide range of unusual nudis to robust ghostpipefish, pipehorse, pygmy sea moths, hammerheads, and recently a pygmy sperm whale.

Carole is currently working on a UAE dive guide book which is expected to be published in December... Includes details of the most dived locations, colour photographs and dive-site maps.

She is also a very active member in the Emirates Environmental Group, promoting underwater awareness to its members and the public alike and has struck up a friendship with a reporter who shares the same environmental eagerness and helps to highlight these matters in the local newspapers.

Send Carol and Leon email at

Taxonomic information courtesy of Dave Behrens

David W. Behrens

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

Send Dave mail at

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