It is possible that these animals are forms of Aegires exeches, but there are enough consistent differences, even if slight, that prompt us to keep them separate. The most readily visible difference with A. exeches is the lack of blue spots and the presence of small maroon streaks and patches on the body. But having said that, at least one specimen was found that had both the maroon streaks and a faint trace of the blue spots of A. exeches. So maybe they are the same. Fourteen specimens of Aegires sp. e270 were all found on lagoon reefs of Enewetak Atoll, under dead coral at depths of 3 to 6 meters. The animals ranged in length from 3 to 7mm.
It is difficult to see the color details in the photos at this extreme magnification, so notes on a 7mm animal follow. The body is small, firm, and covered with very spiculose, flat-topped, often mushroom shaped warts. Between the warts are small irregular-sized pustules, which are also spiculose. Color is white with occasional streaks or patches of maroon on the wart tops on the anterior half of body. On the posterior half and on the body surface between the warts (especially just anterior to the gills) are minute indistinct specks of maroon. An indistinct maroon band runs transversely from one rhinophore sheath to the other. Sides above foot margin are white, which alternates with narrower bands of light brown. Oral shield bears about 8 spiculose warts. Rhinophores sheaths have 4 to 5 variable-sized warts at the edge surrounding the rhinophore. Rhinophore itself is rather tall and smooth except for an anterior papilla near its tip. Rhinophore color is mostly maroon with some specks and streaks of white. Below the rhinophore papilla, the rhinophore is much wider (in the anterior-posterior plane). Gills are surrounded anteriorly and laterally by 3 large spiculose wartlike shields. Gills are transparent with specks of white. A smaller specimen looked pretty much the same, but with less maroon on the rhinophores and no maroon band between the sheaths.
The higher resolution photos by Christina Sylvester show a couple of specimens of what may be the same species found in one of the shallow reef quarries at Kwajalein Atoll.
Shot under different lighting conditions, the small light blue spots can be seen scattered about the body.
This specimen found in a Kwajalein reef quarry by Christina Sylvester differed in having a black blotch encompassing several of the spiny warts near the gills. It is possible this is something different.
Created 3 January 2007
Updated 19 March 2017
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