Melibe papillosa (Philippi, 1867)

The identification of this Melibe is uncertain. More than a dozen specimens have been found at Kwajalein Atoll, all living in clumps of Halimeda algae on a sandy lagoon reef. The animals were found at depths of about 8-9m and measured about 40-55mm in length. Photos on the web and in various books seem to refer to this as Melibe viridis or M. papillosa. They do seem different from the larger Melibe viridis we have seen in the Philippines and Indonesia, so we are tentatively going with M. papillosa. The specimen immediately below was 40mm long. It is possible there are actually two species on this page, one more translucent with white frosting on the inner surfaces of the dorsal processes, and the other more yellowish with distinct brown spots at the bases of the processes.

The specimen below was one of the larger ones, measuring 52mm in a relaxed state. The first photo shows it expanding its tendril-fringed oral hood into a "throw net" used to capture small crustaceans and other food items. The following shot shows it grasping with its oral hood at the algae-covered bottom where the prey is likely to be.

This species will occasionally swim when disturbed by flexing its body back and forth and rising up off the bottom.

Here is a shot toward the mouth through the front of the closing oral hood.

The next photo is of a more transparent specimen, approaching Melibe sp. e530 in coloration.

The specimen below found on 21 December 2008 had more distinct dark spots at the bases of the dorso-lateral processes.

The specimen below was found in a Kwajalein lagoon Halimeda patch on 19 July 2009.

Created 25 November 2007
Updated 17 June 2015

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