Zelentia willowsi

Image courtesy of Karin Fletcher
Port Orchard, Washington

Image courtesy of Dave Behrens

Zelentia willowsi Korshunova, Fletcher, Lundin, Picton & Martynov, 2018

New species, new genus. Yikes. This cutie was discovered by our own, Karin Fletcher, one of my outstanding co-authors of the upcoming revision to the now 17 year old, Eastern Pacific Nudibranchs. The new revision which now contains over 300 species is due later this summer. Nudibranch and Sea Slugs of the Eastern Pacific not only expands the number of species found between Alaska and Panama but makes comparisons with similar looking species and discusses new phylogenetic information that has led to name changes.

The body of this little critter is translucent whitish gray; dark jaws are visible through the body. The ceratal cores are dark olive to dark brown with small, white spots on the tips. The cerata are relatively long and begin anterior to the thick, translucent rhinophores. No white encrustations on rhinophores or oral tentacles.

Similar species include juvenile Cuthona divae which have thinner, more pointed cerata. This is a small species measuring up to 9 mm (0.3 in). Its range, is not a range at all, but restricted to the type locality, Port Orchard, Washington.

Karin has observed this species sub tidally to 15 m (49 ft), feeding on encrusting hydroids.

The species is named after Dr. A. O. Dennis Willows, former director of the Friday Harbor Labs who studied networks of individual neurons in Tritonia. Karin saw the species in 2014, 2015 and 2016 but have not seen it since 2017, when I found a single specimen. There are no other public records of it, but that could be due to its small size and short life span.


Korshunova, T.; Fletcher, K.; Lundin, K.; Picton, B.; Martynov, A. 2018. The genus Zelentia is an amphi-boreal taxon expanded to include three new species from the North Pacific and Atlantic oceans (Gastropoda: Nudibranchia: Trinchesiidae). Zootaxa. 4482(2): 297.

Dave Behrens
Sammamish, WA 98074
May. 2022
Send Dave email at davidwbehrens@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of Doug Miller

Karin Fletcher and her husband, Doug Miller, have been scuba diving in Puget Sound since 2006. In 2009, they moved to a house on Rich Passage near Bremerton, WA where they dive at least once a week, sometimes while dodging boat traffic. Karin has been tracking nudibranch abundance and diversity in Rich Passage since then and Doug tracks fish and invertebrates for REEF.org.

Karin uses an Olympus TG-5 in an Olympus housing.

Send Karin email at karin@milltech.com

© The Slug Site, Michael D. Miller 2022. All Rights Reserved.