Doto lancei

Pair of animals with egg mass on prey hydroid

Image by Hans Bertsch, Punta la Gringa, Bahía de los Ángeles

Doto lancei Marcus & Marcus, 1967

            In our book, Invertebrados Marinos del Noroeste de México / Invertebrates of Northwest Mexico, Luis and I illustrate and discuss 150 species of Heterobranchia that occur in the waters of southern California, the Pacific Coast of Baja California, and the Gulf of California. This is one of the species we cover:

Species 638

Lance’s Doto

Description: Distinctive tubercles on cerata, the distal ones bearing a black subapical ring with a black apical spot. Body color white with brown-black pigmentation. Size: To 0.4 in. Habitat: On prey hydroid Aglaophenia, low intertidal and shallow subtidal. Distribution: Monterey Bay, California, throughout the Gulf of California and south to Panamá. Remarks: Named in honor of James R. Lance, who conducted long term investigations on the nudibranchs at La Jolla, California.

Doto de Lance

Descripción: Tubérculos distintivos en ceratas, los tubérculos distales tienen un anillo subapical negro con una mancha apical negra. Cuerpo de color blanco con una pigmentación marrón-negro. Tamaño: Hasta 10 mm. Hábitat: En el hidroide presa Aglaophenia, en el intermareal bajo y submareal somero. Distribución: Monterey Bay, California, a lo largo del Golfo de California y hacia el sur hasta Panamá. Observaciones: Nombrado en honor de James R. Lance, quien llevó a cabo las investigaciones a largo plazo sobre los nudibranquios en La Jolla, California.

Steve Long, Eveline Marcus, Hans Bertsch, and Jim Lance circa 1984
Photo courtesy of Hans Bertsch

            Eveline and Ernst Marcus named this species in their monograph American Opisthobranch Mollusks (published 22 December 1967). As most of us know, this species honor turned out to be a bitter-sweet event for Jim. Among the 35 species they named from Atlantic and eastern Pacific waters (Florida, West Indies, both coasts of Panama and the Gulf of California) were numerous other patronyms, including species named for Frederick M. Bayer, Peter E. Pickens, and Mary Anne Hill. Three of the non-patronymic species include Chromodoris sedna, Nembrotha eliora, and Acanthodoris pina. The San Diego Museum of Natural History published Jim’s paper, “New Panamic Nudibranchs (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) from the Gulf of California)” (on 8 January 1968), in which he named Chromodoris fayae, Nembrotha hubbsi, and Acanthodoris stohleri, all after deserved and distinguished investigators. However, by the rules of priority, Jim’s species became junior synonyms of the Marcus species. I don’t know which publication Jim had in his hands first. It should be noted that Jim was aware of their publication (they write, “For a fine set of kodachromes of opisthobranchs, chiefly from the area of La Jolla, we are indebted to the generosity of Dr. James R. Lance”), but there seemed to be a deeper lack of communication, with the result of him “losing” his species by two weeks!

            Be that as it may, this is a fine, cryptic slug to bear Jim’s name. Some years later, Mrs. Marcus visited the United States, and spent some time collecting, viewing slides and animals, and discussing opisthobranchs with her colleagues. One afternoon/evening in 1984, Steve Long and I were able to join the conversation at Jim’s home in La Jolla!

Dr. Hans Bertsch
Imperial Beach, Calif
Nov. 2016



Bertsch, Hans & Luis E. Aguilar Rosas. 2016. Invertebrados Marinos del Noroeste de México / Marine Invertebrates of Northwest Mexico. Instituto de Investigaciones Oceanológicas, UABC, Ensenada. xxxii + 432 pp.

Lance, James R. 1968. New Panamic nudibranchs (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) from the Gulf of California. Transactions of the San Diego Society of Natural History 15 (2): 1-13.

Marcus, Eveline & Ernst Marcus. 1967. American Opisthobranch Mollusks. University of Miami, Institute of Marine Sciences. viii + 256 pp.

From left to right, Hans Bertsch and Luis E. Aguilar Rosas
Image courtesy of Craig Hoover

Send Hans email at
Send Luis email at

Webmaster's Notes: This book is going to be an indespensable addition to any serious Baja explorer's road map to the underwater nudibranch and invertebrate fauna of Baja California! For a Spanish review of the book, see Carlos Lazcano

For book sales, please contact Hans Bertsch directly at the present time!

© The Slug Site, Michael D. Miller 2016. All Rights Reserved.