Philine punctata

Philine punctata (J. Adams, 1800)

Philine punctata 4mm @ Menai Strait, Wales. April 2011 by Ian Smith







































Philine punctata  (J. Adams, 1800)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 140758).

  • Bulla punctata Adams J., 1800
  • Bullaea alata Forbes, 1844
  • Colpodaspis punctata (J. Adams, 1800)
  • Philine pusilla M. Sars, 1859

The body is smooth, without any tentacles, and can measure up to 5mm long. Its base color is translucent with a yellowish tint, and it is almost completely covered with brown dots but from the whitish front area and a distinct transversal pale band on the back, through which the shell’s ornament could be visible, or even exposed if the epithelium is eroded. The anterior half of dorsum is protected by a cephalic shield, while the rear part of the dorsum consists of a translucent mantle completely covering an internal shell that protects internal organs. The rear part of the mantle looks like an open cilinder -forming the mantle cavity- where the gill can be seen and the internal shell is found behind a thin membrane. The foot has lateral lobes (parapodia) that are usually protecting the sides of the body. The mouth and a small part of head are visible from the under side of the body. The internal shell measures up to 2mm long and it is white, with spiral rows of separate impressed dots, and is very fragile.

It lives in the sublittoral, on silty sand and on shells and stones covered with bryozoans of the genus Bugula. It could appear on the shore at low water spring tides, among rock encrusting organisms and sediment. It’s diet is unknown. The spawn consists of cord of about 200 eggs wrapped forming a ball enclosed within a spherical, transparent, gelatinous capsule of about 1.5mm in diameter, attached to the substrate by a gelatinous stalk. Eggs are transparent with a whitish embryo that rotate slowly inside the eggcase.


  • Philine. Derived from Greek “philainoi”, name of two Carthaginian brothers who fougth for their homeland and who received honors as Gods.
  • Punctata. From Latin “punctus”, from “pungo, pungere”, jab/poke, mark with points/pricks, prick, puncture, sting (insect).

It is found from Southern Norway to the Mediterranean Sea, where it is cited in most Iberian shores (but the Atlantic Andalusian shores and the Levantine shores), also in Italy (Sicily) and Croatia. Not uncommon, but the live animal is easily overlooked. There are many records of dead shells found in the sand. In Catalonia it has been cited at Cadaqués and L’Escala (Girona) and Cambrils (Tarragona).

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


    Western Mediterranean: ★☆☆☆☆
    Eastern Mediterranean: ☆☆☆☆☆
    Atlantic Ocean: ★☆☆☆☆

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Philine punctata based on our own records.

More pictures


    Aartsen, J. J. v., H. P. M. G. Menkhorst, and E. Gittenberger. 1984. The marine Mollusca of the Bay of Algeciras, Spain, with general notes on Mitrella, Marginellidae and Turridae. Basteria supplement 2: 1-135.
    Adams, J. 1800. Descriptions of some minute British shells. Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 5: 1-6, pl. 1.
    Ballesteros, M. 2007. Lista actualizada de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 2: 163–188.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 6: 1–28.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2023. OPK - Opistobranquis. (
    Cervera, J. L., G. Calado, C. Gavaia, M. A. E. Malaquías, J. Templado, M. Ballesteros, J. C. García-Gómez, and C. Megina. 2004. An annotated and updated checklist of the opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Spain and Portugal (including islands and archipelagos). Boletín Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 20 (1-4): 1-111. L.
    Crocetta, F., and L. P. Tringali. 2017. Remarks on Philine striatula Monterosato, 1874 ex Jeffreys ms., with a survey on Philinidae J.E. Gray, 1850 (1815) sensu lato (Gastropoda: Cephalaspidea) recently ascribed to the Mediterranean fauna. Mar.Biodiv.
    Furfaro, G., F. Vitale, C. Licchelli, and P. Mariottini. 2020. Two Seas for One Great Diversity: Checklist of the Marine Heterobranchia (Mollusca; Gastropoda) from the Salento Peninsula (South-East Italy). Diversity. 12: 171.
    García-Gómez, J. C., J. L. Cervera, F. J. García, J. A. Ortea, S. F. García-Martin, A. Medina, and L. P. Burnay. 1991. Resultados de la campaña internacional de biología marina “Algarve 88”: moluscos opistobranquios. Bollettino Malacologico 27 (5-9): 125-138.
    Hidalgo, J. C. 1917. Fauna malacológica de España, Portugal y las Baleares. Trabajos del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales. Serie Zoología (Madrid) 30: 752 pp.
    Long, S. J. 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000. Bayside Books & Press, Tustin, CA, U.S.A. 672p.
    Malaquias, M. A. E. 2015. Philine punctata accessed through: Artsdatabanken, Universitetsmuseet i Bergen, Universitetet i Bergen on 2015-04-17. (
    Manousis, T., G. Mpardakis, A. Zamora-Silva, K. Paraskevopoulos, D. Manios, and S. Galinou-Mitsoudi. 2012. New findings of gastropods in the Hellenic seas with emphasis on their origin and distribution status. Journal of Biological Research—Thessaloniki, 18: 249–264.
    McDonald, G. 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia. 2nd Online Edition, Annotated. 1072 pp  Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz. (
    Moro, L., J. Ortea, and J. J. Bacallado. 2016. Nuevas citas y nuevos datos anatómicos de las babosas marinas (Mollusca: Heterobranchia) de las islas Canarias y su entorno. Revista de la Academia Canaria de las Ciencias., 48: 9-52.
    Ohnheiser, L. T., and M. A. E. Malaquias. 2013. Systematic revision of the gastropod family Philinidae (Mollusca: Cephalaspidea) in the north-east Atlantic Ocean with emphasis on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 167: 273–326.
    Peñas, A., and G. Giribet. 2003. Adiciones a la fauna malacológica del litoral del Garraf (NE de la Península Ibérica). Iberus 21 (1): 117-189.
    Peñas, A., E. Rolán, A. Luque, J. Templado, F. Rubio, D. Moreno, and A. Sierra. 2006. Moluscos marinos de la zona de la isla de Alborán. Iberus, supplement 6.
    Phorson, J. E. 1989. Some observations on juvenile shells of Retusa truncatula, Philine catena and Philine punctata. The Conchologists’ Newsletter 111: 223-226.
    Prkić, J., A. Petani, Ð. Iglić, and L. Lanča. 2018. Stražnjoškržnjaci Jadranskoga Mora: Slikovni Atlas i Popis Hrvatskih Vrsta / Opisthobranchs of the Adriatic Sea: Photographic Atlas and List of Croatian Species. Ronilaćki Klub Sveti Roko, Bibinje.
    Smith, I. 2012. Philine punctata accessed through: The Conchological Society of Great Britain and Ireland on 2015-05-18. (
    Templado, J., and R. Villanueva. 2010. Checklist of Phylum Mollusca. pp. 148-198 In Coll, M., et al., 2010. The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: estimates, patterns, and threats. PLoS ONE 5(8):36pp.
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    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:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas (2023) "Philine punctata" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 13/05/2015. Accessed: 28/02/2024. Available at (

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