The species currently known as Hypselodoris bullocki is either quite variable in coloration or the same name is being used for several related species throughout the Indo-Pacific. All the various forms will need to be studied and compared before it can be sure which of those possibilities is correct. The Marshall Islands specimens seem to fall at one of the far ends of its range of variation. It is hard for me to fully accept that the small, pale animals we see here are the same as the larger purple specimens I saw down in the Solomons. But maybe they are. So far we have seen at least 13 specimens, all but one at Enewetak Atoll, and ranging in size from 7 to 32mm. All were white to pale pink, the larger ones with a tinge of purple around the anterior margin and on the tip of the tail. Rhinophores are orange and white; the first picture below is a large specimen that shows the colors well. On most, they were less distinct. All of the Enewetak specimens were found on lagoon pinnacles at depths of 10 to 15 meters, and most of the animals were on their prey species of sponge, shown in the second and third photos below.
This animal pulled away from its feeding position when disturbed. A moment before, it had its head in the hole right below it.
Surrounded by food!
The next four shots show the single animal so far found at Kwajalein Atoll. It was on a lagoon reef under a rock on its prey sponge at a depth of about 6m on 26 January 2009, and it measured about 15mm.
The Kwajalein specimen on its food sponge.
Below is a specimen of Hypselodoris bullocki photographed in the Florida group of the Solomon Islands. Most of the Solomons specimens I observed were very similar to this. More Solomon Islands animals are here.
Created 19 December 2005
Updated 29 January 2009
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