Phyllodesmium sp. e617

This Phyllodesmium is known from several specimens found under rocks on the tops of Kwajalein Atoll midlagoon pinnacles. Two were found on a on 21 November 2010, three more on 11 April 2011, an additional three on 9 October 2012 and a final trio on 24 October 2016. The first two specimens at rest measured 25 and 23mm. It is similar in some respects to Phyllodesmium poindimiei, but there appear to be significant differences in color.

Below are two of the specimens found on 11 April 2011, which were also under a rock on a large midlagoon Kwajalein Atoll pinnacle. The three individuals, these two and one very small one, were clustered together. The medium-sized specimen below had a more golden yellow color.

Below is one of the animals found on 9 October 2012. It was carrying a copepod commensal just behind the rhinophores.

The rest are from under a rock on the large midlagoon pinnacle called Shark City on 24 October 2016.

Other Phyllodesmium species are known to eat soft corals such as gorgonians and Xenia grasping soft corals. The few places we have found this nudibranch are unusual in the abundance of a rather low growing, stiff, brown gorgonian that we suspect is the food for this particular Phyllodesmium. We have dove these particular pinnacles only during the day and the nudibranchs have always been under rocks, but perhaps they would come out of hiding at night to feed. The next three photos show the suspected food gorgonian.

Created 29 November 2010
Updated 24 March 2017

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