Peltodoris atromaculata

Peltodoris atromaculata (Bergh, 1880)

Peltodoris atromaculata 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: Euctenidiacea  Tardy, 1970
Infraorder: Doridacea  Thiele, 1931
Superfamily: Doridoidea  Rafinesque, 1815
Family: Discodorididae  Bergh, 1891
Genus: Peltodoris  Bergh, 1880
Species: Peltodoris atromaculata  Bergh, 1880


  • Discodoris atromaculata (Bergh, 1880)

This is a big species, as it can reach up to 12 cm in length. The body is flattened with a rounded or oval contour, when the animal is at rest. It is distinctive by its body chromatic design: white background dorsum decorated with rounded spots of various sizes, coloured dark brown, almost black. The dark spots on the back tend to be larger in the center than at the margins and its density can vary widely among individuals. The dorsal spots remain in preserved animals. The back has leathery consistence because of the spicules present in the mantle tissues, it also has numerous small conical protuberances. The rhinophores are totally white, both the laminar portion (with 20-25 tight lamellae) and the basal portion (without lamellae). The rhinophoric sheath is slightly elevated and also has conical tubercles; its upper edge has irregular tubercles, some coloured dark brown. The gill is composed of up to 8 white gill leaves with the central axis coloured light brown. The gill sheath is also tuberculate. Gill leaves are fully retractable. The foot and the underside of the mantle are white. The foot is large and protrudes slightly below the mantle at the posterior zone, forming something like a rounded tail. The internal organs can give a soft pink hue to the central portion of the foot. The mouth has a pair of fine oral palps.

This species of nudibranch is common in dimly lit rocky bottoms, at the entrance of caves and in coralligenous bottoms, wandering or on the sponge Petrosia ficiformis it feeds on. Also found in commercial trawler bottoms about 100 m deep. Once on the sponge, this sea slug is very sedentary so it can remain on it for several days and then the radula scraped areas are easily seen on the sponge surface. Occasionally, several individuals of different sizes may be observed on the same sponge, there is a record of up to 27 specimens over a large size sponge. The nudibranch extracts its food from the sponge, while accumulating in the digestive gland secondary metabolites called “petroformines” (of the acetylenes group) that have revealed to be highly cytotoxic in laboratory experiments and that the animal possibly uses as a chemical defense mechanism (Àvila, 1995) . It is common for animals kept in aquarium that they autotomize marginal mantle portions when disturbed, presumably as another defensive mechanism. The spawn is an spiralled ribbon of 3-4 turns and 4 cm in diameter and about 15 mm high, with white eggs measuring about 180 microns (Schmekel & Portmann, 1982).


  • Doris, is a marine divinity that gives name to the doridacean nudibranchs. She was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys and also married the sea god Nereus. They were the parents of the 50 sea nymphs or Nereids.
  • Atro- is the default form of the Latin word ater, which means black.
  • Maculata , from the latin maculatus=spotted
  • Pelto- from Latin pellis= skin, hide

This is a southern European species and one of the most abundant nudibranchs in the Mediterranean and one that also lives in the next Atlantic coasts (Dayrat, 2010). It has been cited in many coastal areas of the Mediterranean, both in the eastern and western basins. In the Atlantic it has been observed off the coast of Asturias, in Portugal, the Canary islands, Açores, Madeira and the Strait of Gibraltar. Apart from the above locations, in the Iberian Peninsula it has been cited in all Mediterranean coastal areas and in the Balearic islands. In Catalunya it is found in almost all localities of the Costa Brava.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Peltodoris atromaculata (z-200).
: GROC 2010-2011 : VIMAR
: Enric Madrenas : Manuel Ballesteros.
: João Pedro Silva : M@re Nostrum
: Bernard Picton : Other sources
: GBIF.ORG : Marine Regions

References for the species: Peltodoris atromaculata

    Cantabria: Ros (1975). Portugal: Gavaia et al. (2004). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1983), García-Gómez et al. (1989). Andalucía (Med.): Luque (1986), Schick (1998), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Templado (1982b), Ballesteros (1985), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Marín and Ros (1987), Ávila Escartín (1993), Valdés (2002a), Templado et al. (2002). Catalunya: Vicente (1964), Ros (1975, 1978b, 1985a,b), Ros & Altimira (1977), Ballesteros (1980, 1985), Pereira (1980, 1981), Altimira et al. (1981), Huelin & Ros (1984), Ávila (1993), Ávila (1996), Valdés (2002b), M@re Nostrum [Illa Mateua (L'Escala) 3/2002, Cala Rustella (Roses) 3/2002, Illa Pedrosa (L'Estartit) 7/1998, observada en numerosas localidades de la costa catalana]. Citada frecuentemente como Discodoris. Baleares: Ros (1975, 1978b, 1981b, 1985b), Ballesteros (1981a, 1985), Ros and Gili (1995), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Dekker (1996), Altaba (1993), Ávila Escartín (1993). Canarias: Pérez-Sánchez and Moreno (1990), Pérez Sánchez, Bacallado and Ortea (1991), Ortea et al. (2001), Moro et al. (2003), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Madeira: Wirtz (1994, 1999), Malaquias et al. (2001). Azores: Wirtz and Martins (1993), Wirtz (1994, 1995a, 1998), Morton et al. (1998), Ávila et al. (1998), Ávila (2000), Malaquias (2001), Valdés (2002a).

    General: Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:83[P] as Discodoris atromaculata; Barletta, 1981:69[P]; Bergh, 1880b:45; Haefelfinger, 1961a:331; Misuri, 1917:63; Nordsieck, 1972:63; Perrone, 1980:121; 1992c:81; Pruvot-Fol, 1951:10; 1954b:243; Riedl, 1970:428; 1983:337; Schmekel, 1970:195; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:86[P]; Vayssiere, 1913a:323; Vicente, 1963a:176; 1967:150; 1981:77; 1991a:[P]; Wagele & Schminke, 1987:3[P]

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


        Western Mediterranean:4 Stars
        Eastern Mediterranean:0.0 Stars
        Atlantic Ocean:0.0 Stars
This chart displays the observation probability for Peltodoris atromaculata
based on our own records.

More pictures


Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.

Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Peltodoris atromaculata" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 16/05/2012, Accessed: 29/03/2017 at (

In order to copy this cite or text fragments you must be a registered user.