Cadlinella ornatissima (Risbec, 1928)

Cadlinella ornatissima is relatively common in the Marshalls. We have seen more than 100 specimens at Enewetak, Kwajalein, and Bikini Atolls, where they live under rocks primarily on shallow lagoon reefs and pinnacles at depths of about 4 to 12 meters. Nineteen measured specimens ranged from 9 to 25mm in length. One specimen at Enewetak was found eating a sponge tentatively identified as Halisarca metabola de Laubenfels, 1954.

Background dorsal color can range from light yellow to orange, and the pustules may lack their usual red tips. The opaque white nodules embedded within the body under the marginal orange coloration in the photo below are probably glands containing toxic chemicals used as a defense against predators.

Egg masses of this species are deposited as a number of tightly packed spirals laying flat on the substrate (right side of photo below). A string of extra-capsular yolk, a bit more visible in the second photo, connects the individual ova.

The animal below was under a rock on a shallow lagoon reef on 19 July 2010. Curiously, it put its egg mass down on a patch of living Millepora fire coral.

A pair found 16 July 2012.


Created 3 January 2006
Updated 23 March 2017

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