Facelina auriculata

Facelina auriculata (Müller, 1776)

Facelina auriculata @ L'Escala, 4-1-2018 by Enric Madrenas










































Facelina auriculata  (O. F. Müller, 1776)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 153375).

  • Doris auriculata Müller, 1776 (original)
  • Doris longicornis Montagu, 1808
  • Eolidia coronata Forbes & Goodsir, 1839
  • Eolidia plumosa Fleming, 1828
  • Facelina auriculata coronata (Forbes & Goodsir, 1839)
  • Facelina coronata (Forbes & Goodsir, 1839)
  • Facelina plumosa (Fleming, 1828)
  • Hervia modesta Bergh, 1871

It is a large size facelinid which generally measures between 20 and 30 mm in length, although specimens up to 52 mm have been cited in the Mediterranean. The body is generally translucent white but internal viscera give it a smooth cream tonality. Cephalic area and the front of the dorsum have a slightly iridescent blue coloration over a pink background. Behind the rhinophores, body transparence allows to see the esophagus as a thick bead curved to the left, colored pink or red depending of the specimens. The oral tentacles are long, with the base iridescent blue and the tips white. The rhinophores have 8-10 thin lamellae and are colored yellow, with strongly iridescent cream color on their front face. The eyes can be seen behind and outside of the base of each rhinophore. There are groups of 6 to 8 cerata at each side of the back, of which the first three have 2-3 rows of cerata and the rest only one row. Between the first and second group of cerata there is the cardiac region. From the second group of cerata, these homogeneously cover the animal’s dorsal area. The cerata are long and narrow and they show, by transparency, the reddish brown digestive gland inside. The front side of the cerata is iridescent blue, something that clearly identifies this species. The apexes of the cerata are transparent and a very close inspection reveals several white spots on the skin. The foot is narrow and transparent; diverting into two short propodial palps on its front side.

This species is very active and often found wandering on rocky and dimly lit walls where hydrarians thrive; it may also be located under rocks. Usually feeds on different hydrarian species such as Podocoryne sp., Clava sp., Obelia geniculata, Tubularia indivisa, T. larynx, Dynamene pusilla, Cordylophora caspia and Laomedea flexuosa, although it has been proven it can also prey on stauromedusae (stalked jellyfish) of the gender Lucernaria, other nudibranchs and even polychaetes. The spawn is a spiral cord that may contain several thousand white eggs.


  • Facelina – Latin for “lined face”.
  • Auriculata – From Latin “auricula”, ear, lobe of the ear; referring to the characteristically shaped rhinophores.

F. auriculata has been quoted recently under his synonymous with F. coronata. This European species has been recorded from the coasts of Norway, the British Isles and Ireland, the Dutch and Belgian coasts, the Atlantic coast of France, the Iberian Peninsula including the Portuguese coast, the Canary Islands and the western Mediterranean. In the Catalan coast it has been observed in localities as Cadaqués, Formigues Islands, Tamariu, Llafranc, Tossa de Mar, Blanes and Cubelles, among others.

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

Similar species
Facelina bostoniensis, cream coloured dorsum, cerata without spaces among groups and with no blue irisations, rhinophores with 20-30 wide and thin alternated lamellae, Atlantic distribution. Facelina vicina, cream coloured dorsum with pinkish head, rhinophores with 11-15 wide and thin alternated lamellae, Mediterranean distribution.


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

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Facelina auriculata based on our own records.



More pictures


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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, M., Madrenas, E. & Pontes, M. (2023) "Facelina auriculata" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 17/05/2012. Accessed: 04/03/2024. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/?p=629)

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