Mariaglaja cf sandrana (Rudman, 1973)

We see this nearly uniform black Mariaglaja species often on Kwajalein Atoll lagoon reefs and in quarries at depths of 2 to about 20 meters. It frequently lives in approximately the same areas as Chelidonura hirundinina, but not in areas usually frequented by Mariaglaja inornata, although when disturbed it will secrete an orange cloud of fluid much like that of M. inornata. While we are not sure, it would appear to fall into the range of M. sandrana as figured by Gosliner et al, 2008, but anatomical or DNA work will probably be required to confirm its identity. Over a span of many months, one particular algae patch was home to more than 50 specimens of all sizes, but they seemed to fade away after a mild El Niño in the fall of 2009. It also seems somewhat similar to a species figured on the Sea Slug Forum as Chelidonura sp. 3. What is likely a white-speckled form of this species is shown separately as Mariajalja? sp. e556.

Orange fluid, probably a defensive chemical, secreted by a specimen that was disturbed.

The little dark spots just above this one's head (left side) and over near the left margin of the photo are small acoel flatworms that probably constitute the diet of this Mariaglaja.

Specimens we assume to be the same species occasionally have some red markings around the anterior end and on the tips of the tail.

Sometimes we see them without the long left tail typical of Mariaglaja, shaped more like a species of Philinopsis. These secrete the same orange fluid when disturbed and we think they are variants of our M. cf sandrana.

Created 28 January 2007
Updated 10 January 2018

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