Tambja mediterranea

Tambja mediterranea (Domínguez, Pola & Ramón, 2015)

Tambja mediterranea photographed by Fernando Aguado
La Herradura (Granada, Spain) in 23 m of depth

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: Polyceroidea  Alder & Hancock, 1845 
Family: Polyceridae  Alder & Hancock, 1845 
Subfamily: Nembrothinae  Burn, 1967 
Genus: Tambja  Burn, 1962 
Species: Tambja mediterranea (Domínguez, Pola & Ramón, 2015)

Taxonomic note: The most similar species to T. mediterranea is T. limaciformis, described by Eliot (1908) from the Red Sea. Both species share several morphological and anatomical features, like a deep saffron-red base body colour with small yellowish to white dots scattered on the back and sides of the body. However, the presence of purple on the tips of the rhinophores and the tips of the gill is distinctive in T. limaciformis (Baba, 1960 and Pola et al. 2006a). To discard the possibility that T. mediterranea was actually T. limaciformis introduced through the Suez Canal (as previously believed), phylogenetic analysis were conducted and certified different (Domínguez et al. 2015).

This species body is elongate and limaciform, ending in a pointed tail. The living animal measures up to 10 mm in length. Base body colour is orange-red. The dorsum is covered with rounded whitish or yellowish tubercles. In some specimens, the tubercles are large and most of them arranged in three rows along the body while in others, the tubercles are smaller and irregularly scattered over the dorsum. The head is rounded anteriorly, with a pair of perfoliate rhinophores with about 15–20 lamellae, retractile in elevated sheaths. The rhinophores are coloured dark red with a whitish tip. The oral tentacles are short and grooved. The gill has 3 tripinnate non-retractile leaves, with an orange-reddish rachis and whitish or yellowish branches. There are lateral slots below the rhinophores. The foot and oral tentacles are coloured orange-red.

No data about it’s biology is known yet. The first collected specimens from Mallorca were found at 53 m depth, in a medium-grained sandy bottom, in a zone predominantly composed by the red algae Phyllophora crispa. The specimens from Malta were collected in bycatch from fishermen’s nets at 50-60 m depth along with Posidonia oceanica leaves and maerl. Specimens from Granada were found over calcareous red algae in 23 m depth, but the last report from Mallorca was found in 45 meters.


  • Mediterranea. From Latin “médium”, middle, interspace, intermediate space, center + “terra”, Earth. From the Mediterranean Sea.

It is a very recently described species, based on specimens found on the island of Mallorca (Oceanographic Campaign DRAGONSAL 2014) and Malta (Fom Ir-Rih, 07/07/2014: C. Mifsud in Sammut, 2016). On the coast of Granada (La Herradura, 6/12/2013: F. Aguado, pers. comm.), on the Italian coast (Secce di Tor Paterno, 08/30/2014: G. Salera, pers. comm.) and in Malta (Island of Gozo, 06/19/2015: H. Domnick in Köhler, 2016) there were reports of Tambja limaciformis (Eliot, 1908) which have now been assigned to Tambja mediterranea (Domínguez et al., 2015). The observation of a specimen of this species and 7.9 cm long in the Cap Norfeu, Roses, Spain, on the Eunicella singularis gorgonian at 48 m depth (9/11/2015: J.M. Báñez and J. Barcia, GROC), extends its distribution in the Iberian Mediterranean coast, as well as its maximum recorded size, which so far was 20 mm (23/09/2006: G. & P. Peels in Köhler, 2016; 06/19/2015, H. Domnick in Köhler, 2016). A recent citation in Mallorca (Sòller, 12/4/2016: L. Juskaničová, pers. comm.) in 45 meters of water confirms the stable presence of the species in the Balearic Islands.

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


        Western Mediterranean:1 Stars
        Eastern Mediterranean:0 Stars
        Atlantic Ocean:0 Stars
This chart displays the observation probability for Tambja mediterranea
based on our own records.


Video by Constantino Mifsud (Malta)

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) "Tambja mediterranea" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 31/08/2014, Accessed: 18/08/2017 at (http://opistobranquis.info/en/Ag8wp)

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