This newly discovered chromodoridid was unexpectedly found while examining several sponge specimens that marine aquarium collector, Daniel Fenton, brought to biologists at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) (www.myFWC.com).
It all began in March 2009 with the misidentification of an urchin species. I noticed commercial landings of the rock boring urchin (Echinometra lucunter) from the Tampa Bay region of the Gulf of Mexico, which I suspected to be the purple-spined urchin (Arbacia punctulata). I asked Mr. Fenton to bring us one of those urchins so we could verify the species (it was A. punctulata). When he brought the urchin to the FWRI, he also had many other specimens (mostly sponges and gorgonians) for us to identify. It was while we were photographing each specimen separately that we noticed a nudibranch on the base of one of the sponges.
Egg Ribbon of Chromodoris fentoni
The coloration of the nudibranch and its host sponge prompted Mr. Fenton to coin the common name for these inverts as "strawberry" nudibranch and "strawberry" sponge (Igernella notabilis).
Shortly after photographs were taken, Dr. Ángel Valdés was contacted and the new species identification project developed.
The body has a whitish background color almost completely covered with irregular red pigment (giving the animal a reddish appearance) and many yellow spots with an orange center. Its body reaches an approximate length of 25 mm (about 1 inch). Specimens were collected off Pinellas County, Florida at a depth of 9 m.
The gill structure was also photographed as part of the study.
This species is named after Mr. Fenton.
Valdés, A., Gatdula, U., Sheridan, N., & Herrera, J. 2011. Multi-dataset revision of two uncommon species of Chromodorididae (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) from the Gulf of Mexico. American Malacological Bulletin 29: 51-62. DOI: 10.4003/006.029.0218
A copy of the description can also be downloaded in *pdf format.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
100 8th Ave SE
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
727-896-8626 ext. 1718
Send Nancy email at Nancy.Sheridan@MyFWC.com