Hypselodoris cf. variobranchia

Image courtesy of Marc Chamberlain
Anilao, Batangas, Philippines
Hypselodoris cf. variobranchia Gosliner & R. Johnson in Epstein et al., 2018

Well Marc's photo here is a real conundrum. Its coloration falls within the descriptions of several Hypselodoris species. The phylogenetic analyses, reported on in Epstein et al. (2018), indicate that H. variobranchia is sister to the clade containing H. bullockii, H. melanesica, H. brycei and H. apolegma. Externally, it is most similar to H. rositoi, H. variobranchia and some color morphs of H. iba, which is a member of a separate clade. All of these species have a wide, solid opaque white marginal band. Externally, H. rositoi has a pink rather than purple body color, and H. violacea has purple rhinophores in contrast to the orange rhinophores of H. iba and H. variobranchia. Both H. iba and H. rositoi have mantle glands that are absent in H. variobranchia and H. violacea. Also, H. iba has a higher body profile than that of H. variobranchia.

The purple dorsum falls in between dark individuals of H. variobranchia (see NSSI 2nd ed, page 194) and H. sp. 7 in NSSI (2nd edition, page 195). And it has yellow-orange rhinophores and a gill like H. bullockii, H. melanesica, H. sp. 7 and H. apolegma.

What throws me off is the orange coloration on the dorsum. This feature has not been noted in any of these species. Not sure if this is actual dermal color pigment or internal organs showing through. For these reasons, I must just go with the "cf." designation, Latin for confer/conferatur, both meaning "compare with." Best I can do.


Hannah E Epstein, Joshua M Hallas, Rebecca Fay Johnson, Alessandra Lopez, Terrence M Gosliner. 2019. Reading between the lines: revealing cryptic species diversity and colour patterns in Hypselodoris nudibranchs (Mollusca: Heterobranchia: Chromodorididae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, Volume 186, Issue 1, May 2019, Pages 116-189.

Dave Behrens
New Braunfels, TX 78130
May, 2023
Send Dave email at davidwbehrens@gmail.com

Marc,and Michelle Chamberlain
Marc and Michelle Chamberlain reside in the Pacific Northwest in Seattle, Washington where they have lived for the last 15 years. They enjoy cold water diving and take advantage of their location to dive Puget Sound, Hood Canal, the San Juan Islands and the Olympic Peninsula all in Washington as well as multiple locations in British Columbia and southeast Alaska whenever possible. They also travel abroad (pre-pandemic), often combining land and water opportunities as in a trip to New Zealand, where they did extensive bird watching and hiking in addition to diving the Poor Knight's Islands (which I am going to put on my places to visit list).

Marc has a Nikon D500 in a Subal housing with 2 YS-D2 strobes and diffusers in addition to a variety of lenses.

Marc in his time in San Diego was SDUPS Photographer of the Year so many times that I lost count! In fact, Marc came to mind many summers ago during a trip on the Catalina Express from Dana Point. Due to a loading snafu, the bag containing my camcorders was stowed down below and therefore unavailable during the hop over to Catalina. Well, you guessed it!, a Blue Whale breeched about 50 feet off the boat and hung around for about 10 minutes for everyone onboard to get a shot. That is with the exception of yours truly! During the remainder of the voyage the only thought that came to mind was "if Marc has been onboard he would have been ready." That folks is the difference between those who dream and those who actually do it!

Send Marc email at marccchamberlain@gmail.com

From left to right, Terry Gosliner, Angel Valdes, Dave Behrens La Jolla, Calif.

Send Dave email at davidwbehrens@gmail.com

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