Description This is a small cephalaspidean, commonly from 5mm to 15 mm in length, with a shell size up to 10mm. The animal’s body background color is translucent whitish, with variable colourful patterns of yellow, orange or purple blotches. The cephalic shield has large yellow round blotches, sometimes encircled by white dots. There are clusters of white pigment dots along the upper lateral sides of the body. Mantle with yellow to orange round blotches rimed with a thick line of white pigment, sometimes with black dots. The “purple morph” (specimens found in the Mediterranean, identified so far as “L. cyanomarginata”) has a white background body and solid or dotted purple lines along the edges of the cephalic shield, parapodial and pallial lobes. Sometimes there are yellow round blotches along the body. The cephalic shield is deeply bilobed, each cephalic lobe elongated, often overlapping the other. Eyes are narrowly spaced, with a pigmented periocular area and sometimes with colourful blotches. Hancock’s organ is long and ridge-like. Parapodial lobes are short and do not meet dorsally. The pallial lobe is rounded and extends beyond the apex. A large purplish spot separates the two eyes, however the presence of yellow and purple spots is variable among specimens (Rudman, 2003). The shell is oval, smooth, translucent whitish in colour, with a rounded upper lip, extending slightly beyond apex. The columella is narrow, separated from last whorl by a narrow furrow. The callus folds back over the furrow.
Biology Little is known about its biology. Like other species of this genus, probably feeds on diatoms and on filamentous algae. The spawn is a translucent ribbon with whitish capsules laid in a one and half turn spiral laid flat on the substrate (picture in Crocetta & Vazzana, 2009). In the Red Sea this species is found in the coral rubble in shallow waters, while in the Mediterranean it is usually seen at night, between 5-30 m of depth, on rocky surfaces covered with algae. A curious trailing behaviour among couples of individuals has been observed, where the leading individual is moving slowly on an almost straight pathway and the pursuing one hurries to catch the leader, moving on the exact trail of it, most probably by following the chemicals left behind, and when it catches, it tries to get under the leader and elevate it. Then the leader makes a quick turn on a vertical direction leaving its partner behind. After a few seconds of halt the pursuer follows the new route to catch the leader again (Yokeş in Sea Slug Forum, 2005). This has been observed both in open sea waters and in aquaria and probably corresponds to mating behaviour. Mollo et al. (2008) found toxic compounds with significant activity as feeding deterrents in this species. The conspicuous purple-blue margin of the animal distinguishes Lamprohaminoea ovalis from all other Mediterranean species of this genus.
Ovalis, referred to the oval shape of the internal shell.
Distribution Described as Haminea ovalis by Pease (1868) from specimens found at Tahiti (French Polynesia), it was later reported at the Marshall Islands as Haminoea linda (Marcus & Burch, 1965). Also found at Australia (Queensland and Western Australia), Vanuatu, Philippines, Okinawa (Japan), Oman (report by Stewart Clarke at Daymaniyat Islands in 2013), and the Red Sea (Suakin in Sudan and the Dahlak Archipelago) as Lamprohaminoea cyanomarginata. It was later found in the Mediterranean Sea where it has stablished viable populations in Greece (2001: Zenetos et al., 2009), Turkey (2002: Çinar et al., 2011), Malta (2006: Sciberras & Schembri, 2007) and Italy (2007: Crocetta, 2012) as this species seems to be quite common in these areas. A report of 100 specimens on rocks covered with algae between 4 and 17 meters deep at Kašuni, Split, Croatia on 26/12/2016 (J. Prkić pers. comm.) would be the first report for the whole Adriatic Sea. Despite the absence of records from the far eastern Mediterranean, it has presumably reached its new distributional area through the Suez Canal (Katsanevakis et al. 2004). Fernández-Vilert et al. (2018) report this species in Mallorca, Balearic Islands, Spain.
Known georeferenced records of the species: Lamprohaminoea ovalis
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