Dondice banyulensis

Dondice banyulensis (Portmann & Sandmeier, 1960)

Dondice banyulensis by Enric Madrenas










































Dondice banyulensis  Portmann & Sandmeier, 1960

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 139938).

  • Dondice nicolae Vicente, 1967
  • Godiva banyulensis Portmann & Sandmeier, 1960

It is the largest aeolidacean of the Mediterranean as it can reach up to 7 cm in length. Unmistakable by its size and by its spectacular orange color, darker on the head and lighter on the back, where the internal organs can be guessed by transparency. All the animal’s body is traversed by a white dorsal midline passing between the base of the rhinophores, running all along the head and bifurcates to penetrate in the inner side of the oral tentacles. There is another white line that runs along both sides of the body, below the insertion of the cerata. Sometimes there is also a white dashed line between the bases of cerata groups. The oral tentacles are very long, very wide at the base and colored orange except at the tip, which is white. The rhinophores are thin and short in relation to the size of the animal, they are almost completely ringed and coloured orange except the apex which is usually white. The cerata are usually assembled into 6 groups on each side of the body, each group with several rows of cerata. The cerata are long, slender, slightly curved and coloured orange, like the rest of the body. The digestive gland inside the cerata is shaped like a strand of brown. The anterior side of cerata may be iridescent white. The foot is very wide and semi-transparent, with all its margin tinged with an iridescent white line that runs all along it. At the tail, this marginal white line of the foot is fused to the dorsal white line. The propodial tentacles are thick and orange, but their tip is iridiscent white.

For years Dondice banyulensis was cited as a member of the genus Godiva, but it was later reinstated in its original genus Dondice. It is incomprehensible that the most spectacular and largest species of Mediterranean aeolidacean went unnoticed until 1960, when it was described by Portmann and Sandmeier as new to science. It is a very active species and, as most facelinids, when provoked extends its cerata sideways in a clearly defensive manoeuvre. It is found in a variety of habitats and substrates such as over hydrozoans colonies of the genus Eudendrium, on gorgonians (Eunicella verrucosa), in the coralligenous, wandering on sandy bottoms or on rocky walls with photophilic algae. This species has been cited feeding on polyps Eudendrium, polychaetes and even other aeolidacean nudibranchs (Flabellina pedata, F. affinis, Cratena peregrina or Facelina rubrovittata). It has been observed that mating animals vigorously move their cerata. The spawn is a heavily scalloped lace with white eggs.


  • Dondice according to the BEMON, is the name of a Sâo Paulo company. It seems that many taxon names created by the Marcus are not evident.
  • Banyulensis referred the oceanographic station of Banyuls-sur-mer (France)

Until recently it was considered that D. banyulensis was a strictly Mediterranean species, its main distribution area the western Mediterranean basin. However it has recently been cited in the coast of Croatia and Turkey and it is also becoming a species observed in Portugal, the Andalusian Atlantic coast and the Strait of Gibraltar. It has been reported in Playa Chica, Lanzarote (José Manuel Miró Gombau, 2015), in Santander in 2006 (Íñigo Alonso) and 2015 (Andone Egaña), in Pasaia, Spain in 2012 and 2013 (Mikel Olaskoaga) and in the Ria de Aldán, Galicia, Spain (Carlos Fernández-Cid) in 2015. In the Iberian Peninsula it is found in all Mediterranean coastal areas and the Balearic islands. In Catalonia it has been cited in numerous localities of the Costa Brava (Port de la Selva, Es Caials, Cadaqués, Cala Joncols, Medes islands, Formigues islands, Tossa de Mar, Blanes) and off the port of Tarragona.

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

References for the species: Dondice banyulensis

    Portugal: García-Gómez et al. (1991), Malaquias and Morenito (2000), Calado and Urgorri (1999), Calado et al. (1999, 2003), Muzavor and Morenito (1999), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1982, 2002), García-Gómez and García (1984a, as Godiva), García and García-Gómez (1985, as Godiva), García-Gómez et al. (1989). Andalucía (Med.): Luque (1983, 1986), Templado, Luque and Moreno (1988), Schick (1998), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000). Levante: Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984), Templado, Luque and Moreno (1988), Templado et al. (2002). Catalunya: Vicente (1964), Ros (1975, 1978, 1985b), Ballesteros (1980, 1985), Altimira et al. (1981), Pereira (1981), Huelin & Ros (1984), M@re Nostrum [Bau de la Punta del Molí (El Port de la Selva) 5/1999, Els Farallons del Gou (El Port de la Selva) 10/1998, Illa de La Meda (El Port de la Selva) 9/1998]. Algunas citas como Godiva. Baleares: Ballesteros (1985, as Godiva), Wirtz and Debelius (2003).

    General: Ballesteros, 1984a:[P]; Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:215[P]; Nordsieck, 1972:80; Sabelli, Giannuzzi-Savelli, & Bedulli, 1990:450; Vicente, 1963a:178; 1967:158; Willan, 1987:82 as Dondice banyulensis; Ballesteros, 1985:32; Garcia & Garcia, 1984:49; Marin & Ros, 1990:214; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:217 as Godiva banyulensis

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007 & 2016, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


    Western Mediterranean:3 out of 5 stars
    Eastern Mediterranean:1 out of 5 stars
    Atlantic Ocean:2 out of 5 stars

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Dondice banyulensis based on our own records.



Dondice banyulensis @ Alto Adriatico by Piero Mescalchin


More pictures


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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2019) "Dondice banyulensis" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 17/05/2012, Accessed: 20/06/2019 at (

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