Melibe coralophilia

Image courtesy of Michael Miller (Webmaster)
Anilao, Philippines

Melibe coralophilia with egg mass

Melibe coralophilia Gosliner & Pola, 2012

This crazy looking beast was named "coralophilia" to bring attention to its close association with a couple of hard coral species. It is found on shallow reefs and is associated with the scleractinean coral Porites sp. and the blue coral, Heliopora caerulea. The curious nature of this association remains unknown.

Probably the craziest things about this species is that the egg mass is carried on the right side of the body located posterior to the genital atrium and is found between the mantle and the foot, rather than laid on the bottom.

The body is wide and somewhat compressed dorsally. Animals are deep golden brown, with lighter or darker areas, probably indicating concentrations of zooxanthellae in darker areas, especially in cerata and on the dorsal tubercles that form a mid-dorsal crest for most of the length of the animal.

The oral hood quite small compared with the body, and other species of Melibe, with an entire, circular margin. Maybe this smaller hood is advantageous when feeding between coral branches.

The species is currently known only from the Philippines and Malaysian Borneo.


Terrence Gosliner & Marta Pola (2012): Diversification of filter-feeding nudibranchs: two remarkable new species of Melibe (Opisthobranchia: Tethyiidae) from the tropical western Pacific, Journal of Systematics and Biodiversity , 10:3, 333-349

Dave Behrens
Sammamish, WA 98074
Oct., 2012

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

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