Flabellina cavolini

Flabellina cavolini (Verany, 1846)

Flabellina cavolini by Enric Madrenas

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797 
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840 
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881 
Clade: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000 
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817 
Suborder: Dexiarchia  Schrödl, Wägele & Willan, 2001 
Infraorder: Cladobranchia Willan & Morton, 1984
Parvorder: Aeolidida Odhner, 1934
Superfamily: Flabellinoidea  Bergh, 1889
Family: Flabellinidae  Bergh, 1889
Flabellina  Voigt, 1834
Species: Flabellina cavolini (Vérany, 1846) [Eolidia]

Taxonomic note: formerly known as Calmella cavolini, the paper by Furfaro et al. (2017), using morphological and phylogenetic techniques, has shown that this species actually belongs to the Flabellinidae. At the morphological level it can not be distinguished from Flabellina gaditana, although they can be distinguished by molecular methods (G. Furfaro, pers. comm.).


  • Aeolis digitata Costa A., 1866
  • Eolidia cavolini Vérany, 1846 (original)
  • Jojenia rubrobranchiata Aradas, 1847
  • Calmella cavolini (Verany, 1846)

This is a small aeolidacean species that rarely exceeds 10 mm in length. Its small size, the coloration of its cerata and its morphology make it distinctive in the environment. The body is narrow, elongated and colored opaque white, sometimes with a slightly iridescent blue shade. The white oral tentacles and rhinophores are long and slender, of almost the same length; some specimens may have orange pigmented tips. The rhinophores are smooth throughout its length. On the back of the head and front of the rhinophores there can be seen two purplish spots, corresponding to the animal jaws, seen by transparency. There can be up to 7 groups of cerata on each side of the body. The cerata of each group come from the same dorsal stalk, that can be bifurcated or trifurcated, something characteristic of several species in the Flabellinidae family. The cerata are semitransparent and the orange or red colored digestive gland can be observed through the skin, the top being more pigmented than the rest. The apex of the cerata is white, and the cnidosac could be observed inside. The foot is semitransparent and has a pair of short propodial palps in its anterior zone. The tail is long and very narrow.

This species is fairly common all year long in shallow rocky walls with abundance of sciaphilic algae, sponges and hydroids. It is usually found associated to hydrarians as Halecium pusillum and Eudendrium racemosum, from which it may feed upon. Is also located on the gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. The spawn has the form of a narrow spiral ribbon of pinkish eggs about 100 microns in diameter.


  • Flabellina derived of Latin Flabellum, meaning “fan”.
  • Cavolini. In honor of Filippo Cavolini (1756-1810), who was a rich merchant and one of the earliest marine zoologists. In 1785 and 1792 he published a few articles about polyps, fishes and crustaceans. He had built a special laboratory in his villa in Posillipo. In 1813 it was posthumously published “Abhandlungen über die Pflanzenthiere des Mittelmeeres”.

So far this is a strictly Mediterranean species, found mainly in the western basin. Recent observations have cited it in Turkish waters. In the Iberian Peninsula has been observed in the Mediterranean coast of Andalusia, in the southeastern coast, in Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. The Catalan locations where it has been cited are: the Cap de Creus and Es Caials (Cadaqués), L’Escala, Illes Medes (L’Estartit), Cala Aiguafreda (Begur), Palamos, Tossa de Mar, Cala Canyelles and Cala Santa Cristina (Lloret de Mar), Blanes, Badalona, the Barcelona harbor, Cubelles and in the beach of La Pineda (Salou).

Known georeferenced records of the species: Flabellina cavolini
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions

References for the species: Flabellina cavolini

    Andalucía (Med.): Ballesteros et al. (1986), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Levante: De Fez (1974), Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Marín and Ros (1987). Catalunya: Ros (1975,1978b), Ballesteros (1978, 1980, 1985, 1985), Altimira et al. (1981), Pereira & Ballesteros (1982), Huelin & Ros (1984), M@re Nostrum [Punta del Ferro (L'Escala) 4/2000, Illa Rodona (Llançà) 11/1998]. Baleares: Ballesteros (1981a, 1985), Ballesteros, Álvarez and Mateo (1986), Dekker (1986).

    General: Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:165[P]; Fez Sanchez, 1974:105; Nordsieck, 1972:74; Perrone, 1986a:33; Pruvot-Fol, 1948b:273; 1951:62; 1953b:51[P]; 1954b:415; Riedl, 1970:431; 1983:326; Schmekel, 1970:1434; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:193[P]; Thompson, 1976a:[P]; Vayssiere, 1913a:295; Vicente, 1967:160

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Flabellina cavolini based on our own records.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Flabellina cavolini" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 17/05/2012, Accessed: 20/11/2017 at (http://opistobranquis.info/en/cF2bU)

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