Berthella aurantiaca

Berthella aurantiaca (Risso, 1818)

Berthella aurantiaca by Enric Madrenas
Class: Gastropoda Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura Spengel, 1881
Clade: Nudipleura Wägele & Willan, 2000
Subclade: Pleurobranchomorpha Schmekel, 1985 (formerly NOTASPIDEA)
Superfamily: Pleurobranchoidea J.E. Gray, 1827
Family: Pleurobranchidae J.E. Gray, 1827
Genus: Berthella de Blainville, 1824
Species: Berthella aurantiaca (Risso, 1818) [Pleurobranchus]


  • Pleurobranchus aurantiacus Risso, 1818 (original)
  • Pleurobranchus elongatus Cantraine, 1835

The specimens of this species usually measure between 20 and 30 mm in length. The body color is orange or red. The body is convex and the dorsal mantle is relatively small and does not completely cover the foot. In the living animal the dorsal integument is hyaline and inside there are stellate spicules, with 3-5 extensions, which have a tissue support mission. The oral veil is highly developed when the animal is moving and has a trapezoidal shape. The rhinophores are tubular and open at the distal end, in the interior zone there are transverse folds corresponding to the rhinophore olfactive areas. The gill is located under the right edge of the mantle, it is bipinnate and has between 15 and 18 lamellae on both sides of the rachis. Gill color is slightly lighter than the rest of the body. The inner shell is ear-shaped and it is fairly developed, taking approximately half of the total length of the animal; the dorsal surface of the shell has more or less marked growth grooves. The foot is very wide, protruding from all the edges of the notum: front, sides and back. Lacaze-Duthiers (1859) describes the anatomy and physiology of this species.

Berthella aurantiaca has been cited living under rocks at shallow depth (Vayssière, 1898), in Posidonia oceanica meadows (Cattaneo-Vietti, 1986) or on sandy or muddy bottoms where commercial fishing trawlers work (Ros, 1975). Until recently, it has been repeatedly cited and confused as Berthellina edwarsi because of the similar coloration and morphology of both species. A summary of the discussion on identifying aurantiaca / edwarsi can be found in Sea Slug Forum. Only by studying the internal anatomy and analyzing the mandibular teeth and radular structure, among other details, it can be told one species or another. B. edwarsi radula has numerous comb-shaped teeth (over 150) on each half row, has elongated mandibules with smooth mandibular elements while B. aurantiaca radula has less teeth in each half row (50 to 80) the teeth are hook-shaped, the mandibules are shorter and the mandibular elements have denticles on both sides. VIMAR group has studied the anatomy of the specimens of  aurantiaca / edwarsi morphology that can be observed in the northern Costa Brava (N.E. of Spain), under stones, from low tide zone down to 15-20 m deep and, so far, all specimens belong to B. edwarsi.


  • Berthella. Probably dedicated to Sabin Berthelot (1794-1880), a French naturalyst who enrolled the Navy and participated in the Napoleonic wars. He lived part of his life at the Canary islands, in his post as French consul in Tenerife. He wrote the “Historia Natural de Canarias” and directed the Botanical Garden of Puerto de la Cruz.
  • Aurantiaca. From Latin “aurantiacus” which means “gold coloured”.

Due to the morphological and coloring similarity between Berthella aurantiaca and B. edwarsi, reports of both species should be confirmed by anatomical studies. Many European reports of B. aurantiaca are, in fact, B. edwarsi (Cervera et al. 2004). These authors indicate, however, that B. aurantiaca is found along most of the Iberian coast (Bay of Biscay, Strait of Gibraltar area and the entire Mediterranean coast), the Balearic Islands and the Azores. VIMAR group has studied the anatomy and morphology of specimens aurantiaca / edwarsi found in the Costa Brava (N.E. Spain), under stones, from the lower tide area down to 15-20 m deep and, so far, they are all B. edwarsi. However, in the Catalan coast, B. aurantiaca has been properly cited at Es Caials (Cadaqués), the coastline of the Medes Islands and Blanes.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Berthella aurantiaca (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:0.0 Stars
        Atlantic Ocean:0.0 Stars
This chart displays the observation probability for Berthella aurantiaca
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) "Berthella aurantiaca" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/05/2012, Accessed: 17/10/2017 at (

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