Hancockia uncinata

Hancockia uncinata (Hesse, 1872)

Hancockia uncinata by Enric Madrenas










































Hancockia uncinata  (Hesse, 1872)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 140081).

  • Doto uncinata Hesse, 1872 (original)
  • Govia rubra Trinchese, 1885
  • Hancockia eudactylota Gosse, 1877

This dendronotacean can reach up to 10 mm in length. The body is narrow and the overall coloration can be pink or pale green depending on the substrate where the animal is found. There are usually white spots formed by small groups of white dots, the size of these spots can be quite variable and they can almost completely cover the back of the animal. These white spots may also form a nearly continuous line on each side of the body crossing the base of lateral appendages. In the head, the cephalic veil has two lobes possessing each one about 2-4 short and round tipped appendages. The rhinophores have a high sheath, trumpet shaped, and whose top edge could be toothed or lobed, that could also be decorated with white spots. The end of the rhinophore is shaped like a club and some oblique lamellae could be observed below. The tip of the rhinophore could be also pigmented white. On both sides of the body there are four lateral appendages (some authors call them cerata, as in aeolidacean nudibranchs) with a very peculiar shape: auriculate or like a fist, open at its outer side or bottom side, and several (up to 7) short digitiform appendices. Of these 4 pairs of lateral appendages, only the first pair in both sides are symmetrical, on the other pairs the appendix located at the left is somewhat more advanced than the one on the right. The foot is narrow.

This is a highly variable color species, a trait that could correspond to an adaptation to blend with different substrates (red or brown algae) on which it can be found in the search for food. Apparently feeds on hydroids of the species Clytia hemisphaerica, from which it may draw the functional nematocysts of its prey and, according to some authors, keep them in small bumps of the back, sides and rhinophoric sheath appendages, similar to what happens in eolidacean nudibranchs (kleptoplasty). The spawn is a wide scalloped ribbon, similar to that of Doto, and white eggs.


  • Hancockia. Dedicated to Albany Hancock (1806-1873), research fellow of Joshua Adler.
  • Uncinata. From latin word for hooked.

This species is distributed from the coasts of Northern Ireland, the British Isles, off the French coasts in the Bay of Biscay, the Iberian Peninsula and the western Mediterranean. In the Iberian Peninsula has been cited in all coastal areas including Portugal, also cited in the Balearic and Canary Islands. In Catalonia it has been observed sporadically in several places on the Costa Brava as Tossa de Mar, L’Escala, L’Estartit or El Port de la Selva, among others.

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


    Western Mediterranean:2 out of 5 stars
    Eastern Mediterranean:0 out of 5 stars
    Atlantic Ocean:0 out of 5 stars

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Hancockia uncinata based on our own records.

More pictures


    Anderson, J. 1999. Hancockia uncinata accessed through: Scottish Nudibranchs on 2014-12-21. (http://www.nudibranch.org/Scottish Nudibranchs/hancockia-uncinata.html).
    Ballesteros, M. 1980. Contribución al conocimientos de los Sacoglosos y Nudibranquios (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia). Estudio anatómico, sistemático y faunístico de las especies del mediterráneo español. Tesis Doctoral.
    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. 2021. OPK - Opistobranquis. (https://opistobranquis.info/).
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira 6(2016): 1-28.
    Ballesteros, M., M. Pontes, and E. Madrenas. 2015. Opisthobranch from Medes Islands (Marine Protected Area, Costa Brava, Catalonia, NE Spain): 40 years of study.
    Ballesteros, M., M. Pontes, and E. Madrenas. 2019. Els nudibranquis del mar català. Brau, Figueres.
    Barletta, G. 1981. Gasteropodi nudi (Pleurobranchomorpha, Sacoglossa, Aplysiomorpha e Nudibranchia) Consiglio Nazionale delle Richerche, Guide per il riconoscimento delle specie animali delle acque lagunari e costiere italiane AQ/1/92, 3. Quaderni della Civica Stazione Idrobiologica di Milano (9):1-124.
    Barletta, G., and G. Melone. 1976. Nudibranchi del Promontorio di Portofino (Genova) (Gastropoda Nudibranchia). Natura, Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali, Milano 67(3-4):203-236.
    Bebbington, A., and T. E. Thompson. 1968. Note sur les opisthobranches du Bassin d’Arcachon. Actes de la Societe Linneenne de Bordeaux, ser. A, 105(5):1-35.
    Bedulli, D., R. Cattaneo-Vietti, R. Chemello, F. Ghisotti, and F. Giovine. 1995. Gastropoda Opisthobranchia, Divasibranchia, Gymnomorpha, Fascicolo 15, pp. 1-23.  In: A. Minelli, A. Ruffo, & S. La Posta (Eds.). Checklist delle specie fauna italiana, Checklist delle specie della Fauna Italiana. Calderini, Bologna.
    Bielecki, S., G. Cavignaux, J. M. Crouzet, and S. Grall. 2011. Des limaces de rêve.
    Calado, G., M. Malaquias, C. Gavaia, J. L. Cervera, C. Megina, B. Dayrat, Y. Camacho, M. Pola, and C. Grance. 2003. New data on opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from the southwestern coast of Portugal. Boletín Instituto Español de Oceanografía 19 (1-4): 199-204.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R. 1986. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi del Mar Ligure. Lavori Societa Italiana di Malacologia 22:85-96.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and G. Barletta. 1984. Elenco preliminare dei molluschi opistobranchi viventi nel Mediterraneo (Sacoglossa, Pleurobranchomorpha, Acochlidiacea, Aplysiomorpha, Nudibranchia). Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 20(9-12):195-218.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and R. Chemello. 1987. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi della Sicilia. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 23(5-8):207-222.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and T. E. Thompson. 1989. Mediterranean opisthobranch molluscs: a zoogeographic approach. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 25(5-8):183-204.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., R. Chemello, and R. Giannuzzi-Savelli. 1990. Atlante dei nudibranchi del Mediterraneo. La Conchiglia, Rome 264 pp, 14 pls. (104 clr. ill), line drawings.
    Cervera, J. L., J. Templado, J. C. García-Gómez, M. Ballesteros, J. Ortea, F. J. García, J. Ros, and A. A. Luque. 1988. Catálogo actualizado y comentado de los Opistobranquios (Mollusca, Gastropoda) de la Península Ibérica, Baleares y Canarias, con algunas referencias a Ceuta y la isla de Alborán. Iberus, supl. 1: 1-84.
    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.
    Debelius, H., and R. H. Kuiter. 2007. Nudibranchs of the world. IKAN- Unterwasserarchiv, Frankfurt.
    Edmunds, M. 1977. Larval development, oceanic currents, and origins of the Opisthobranch fauna of Ghana. Journal of Molluscan studies 43:301-308.
    Edmunds, M. 1991. Does warning coloration occur in nudibranchs. Malacologia 32(2):241-255.
    Eliot, C. N. E. 1910. A monograph of the British nudibranchiate Mollusca: with figures of the species; Figures by the late Joshua Alder and the late Albany Hancock, and others. Ray Society, London.
    Fernández-Ovies, C. L. 1981. Contribución a la clasificación morfológica de las puestas de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Boletín de Ciencias de la Naturaleza del Instituto de Estudios Asturianos 28: 3-12.
    Flanders Marine Institute. 2018. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase: Territorial Seas. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase. (http://www.marineregions.org/).
    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.
    Garcia, F. J., and H. Bertsch. 2009. Diversity and distribution of the Gastropoda Opisthobranchia from the Atlantic Ocean: A global biogeographic approach. Scientia Marina. 73: 153–160.
    García-Gómez, J. C. 2002. Paradigmas de una fauna insólita; Los moluscos opistobranquios del estrecho de Gibraltar (Serie Ciencias) 20: 397 pp. Instituto de Estudios Gibraltareños. Algeciras, Cádiz, Spain.
    García-Gómez, J. C., J. L. Cervera, F. J. García, and C. M. López de la Cuadra. 1989. Resultados de la Campaña Internacional de Biología Marina “Ceuta-86”: Moluscos Opistobranquios. Bollettino Malacologico 25: 223-232.
    Garstang, W. 1893. On the relations of Hesse’s Doto uncinata to the genus Hancockia. Conchologist 2(5):110-112.
    Gavaia, C., M. A. E. Malaquias, G. Calado, and V. Urgorri. 2003. New records of Portuguese opisthobranch molluscs. Journal of Conchology 38 (2): 101-118.
    George, J. D., and J. J. George. 1979. Marine life, an illustrated encyclopedia of invertebrates in the sea. 288 pp.; pls. 1-128; figs. 1-49 John Wiley & Sons, N.Y.
    Goodheart, J., A. L. Bazinet, Á. Valdés, A. G. Collins, and M. P. Cummings. 2017. Prey preference follows phylogeny: evolutionary dietary patterns within the marine gastropod group Cladobranchia (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia: Nudibranchia). BMC Evolutionary Biology (2017) 17:221.
    Grande, C., J. Templado, J. L. Cervera, and R. Zardoya. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of Euthyneura (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Molecular Biology and Evolution 21 (2): 303-313. 21: 303–313.
    Hesse, H. 1872. Diagnose de nudibranches nouveaux des côtes de Bretagne. Journal de Conchyliologie (3) 20: 345-348.
    Just, H., and M. Edmuns. 1985. North atlantic nudibranchs (Mollusca) seen by Henning Lemche. Ophelia supplement 2: 1-150.
    Long, S. J. 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000. Bayside Books & Press, Tustin, CA, U.S.A. 672p.
    Marcus, E. G. 1958. Notes on Opisthobranchia. Boletim do Instituto Oceanografico, Universidad de Sao Paulo 7(1-2):31-78, pls. 1-8.
    Marcus, Er. 1957. On opisthobranchia from Brazil 2. Journal of the Linnean Society of London (Zoology) 43(292): 390-486.
    McDonald, G. 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia. 2nd Online Edition, Annotated. 1072 pp  Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz. (http://escholarship.org/uc/item/8115h0wz).
    McDonald, G. R., and J. W. Nybakken. 1999. A worldwide review of the food of nudibranch mollusks. II The suborder Dendronotacea. A list of the worldwide food habits of nudibranchs. The Veliger. 62–66.
    Menéndez, J. L., and J. Oliveros. 2004. Hancockia uncinata accessed through: AsturNatura on 2015-02-05. (http://www.asturnatura.com/especie/hancockia-uncinata.html).
    Moreno, D., and J. Templado. 1998. Nuevas aportaciones al conocimiento de los opistobranquios del sureste español. II. Iberus 16 (2): 39-58.
    Moro, L., J. L. Martín Esquivel, M. J. Garrido Sanahuja, and I. Izquierdo Zamora. 2003. Lista de especies marinas de Canarias (algas, hongos, plantas y animales). Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias.
    Nordsieck, F. 1972. Die europäischen Meeresschnecken : (Opisthobranchia mit Pyramidellidae, Rissoacea) : vom Eismeer bis Kapverdem, Mittelmeer und Schawarzes Meer. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart.
    Nunn, J. D. 1990. The occurrence of the rare nudibranch Hancockia uncinata (Hesse, 1872) at St. John’s Point, Co. Donegal. Irish Naturalists Journal 23(8):341-342.
    Ocaña Martín, A., L. Sánchez Tocino, S. López González, and F. Viciana Martín. 2000. Guía submarina de invertebrados no artrópodos. Comares, Granada.
    Ortea, J. A., and V. Urgorri. 1979. Primera cita de Hancokia uncinata (Hesse, 1872) (Gastropoda: Nudibranchia) para el litoral ibérico. Trabajos Compostelanos de Biología 8: 79-86.
    Ortea, J. A., L. Moro, J. J. Bacallado, and R. Herrera. 2001. Catálogo actualizado de los Moluscos Opistobranquios de las Islas Canarias. Revista de la Academia Canaria de Ciencias 12 (3-4): 105-136.

    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 (2021) "Hancockia uncinata" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 17/05/2012. Accessed: 21/01/2021. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/oJVbJ)

To copy this cite click on the right button.