Marionia blainvillea

Marionia blainvillea (Risso, 1818)

Marionia blainvillea @ Port de la Selva 26/10/2013 by Pontes, Miquel










































Marionia blainvillea  (Risso, 1818)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 141730).

  • Marionia affinis Bergh, 1883
  • Marionia berghi Vayssière, 1879
  • Marionia tethydea [sic]
  • Tritonia acuminata Costa A., 1840
  • Tritonia blainvillea Risso, 1818 (original)
  • Tritonia costae Vérany, 1846
  • Tritonia decaphylla Cantraine, 1835
  • Tritonia meyeri Vérany, 1862
  • Tritonia quadrilatera Schultz in Philippi, 1844
  • Tritonia thethydea Delle Chiaje, 1841

This species can reach a considerable size of up to 70 mm in length (90 mm on the specimens from Argentina). Adults have a reddish or orange colour with whitish spots or circles throughout the body, including the sides, which usually match with rounded tubercles. Juveniles up to 20-30 mm have a semi-transparent body, are white, cream or pink and have opaque white lines going through the dorsum and the base of the dorsal branches. The head has a highly developed cephalic veil well differentiated into two lobes, each one with 6-7 fingerlike extensions, branched in larger specimens. The mouth is located in the center of the underside of the cephalic veil. The rhinophores have a fairly high sheath and its edge is somewhat open and with small tubercles. The rhinophores have a wide base and near its upper end have many short branching processes, while the apex is cylindrical; rhinophores and rhinophoric sheath are of the same color of the body. On each side of the mantle there are up to 12 dorsal branches, the largest ones being the 3rd, 4th and 5th, decreasing in size from that one until the end ones, which are often rudimentary. The dorsal branches are usually white in juvenile specimens and reddish in larger ones. The dorsal margin has many characteristically wavy protrusions corresponding to the bases of the dorsal branches. The foot is wide at its anterior zone and the tail is long and narrow.

Juveniles of this species are usually found on sea fans, soft corals and algae, while adults often live under rocks. The colonies of gorgonians and soft corals on which they are found are also often their food, as Alcyonium acaule, Alcyonium palmatum, Eunicella cavolinii, Eunicella singularis, Leptogorgia sarmentosa and Paramuricea clavata (McDonald & Nybakken, 1999). It has also been cited eating octocoral Maasella edwarsii. M. blainvillea is one of the few nudibranchs that is capable of swimming by continuously contracting and extending its body. Stock (1960) indicates that the ectoparasitic copepod Katanthessius delamarei is commonly found on the animal. Vayssière (1901) describes the spawn of this species as a somewhat compressed and semi cylindrical coiled cord; eggs are orange and very small, about 70 microns in diameter, having 60,000 to 80,000 eggs per spawn.


  • Marionia. In honor to Prof. Antoine-Fortuné Marion, (1846-1900), French zoologist and professor / director of the Natural History Museum of Marseille, who during his school years in Aix was a friend of the artist to be Paul Cézanne, who later painted his portrait.
  • Blainvillea. In honor to Prof. Henri-Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, (1777-1850). He became interested in zoology after listening a lecture by Cuvier (q.v.), who took care of and educated him (partly together with Lamarck and Duméril). Eventually, he became Cuvier’s successor as a professor of comparative anatomy and became himself a highly esteemed lecturer and a devoted researcher. In 1834 he created the word “paléontologie”.

This species lives in the nearby Mediterranean and Atlantic, although its presence has also been observed in Angola (Gofas et al. 1985), the Azores (Borges et al. 2010). The finding of a similar specimen in the southwest Atlantic in Monte Hermoso (Argentina) should be confirmed. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been found in all coastal areas, both Atlantic and Mediterranean, also in the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and Madeira (Cervera et al. 2004). In Catalonia it has been reported in El Port de la Selva, Cadaqués, L’Escala, L’Estartit (Medes Islands), Begur, Tossa de Mar and Blanes.

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

References for the species: Marionia blainvillea

    Cantabria: Ávila Escartín (1993). Portugal: De Oliveira (1895), Hidalgo (1916), Nobre (1932) (all these records as M. quadrilatera), Calado and Urgorri (1999), Calado et al. (1999), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Andalucía (Atl.): Vayssière (1913), Hidalgo (1916). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1982), García-Gómez et al. (1989), Templado et al. (1993b). Andalucía (Med.): Templado et al. (1986), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Templado, Talavera and Murillo (1983), Templado et al. (2002), Ballesteros et al. (1986). Catalunya: Ros (1975), Ávila (1993), Domènech et al. (2006), Ballesteros (datos no publicados) [Es Caials, Cap Falcó, Blanes, Tossa de Mar, costa del Maresme], M@re Nostrum [Cala Foradada (Portbou) 10/1999, Illa Mateua (L'Escala) 9/1997 y 12/2001, Punta Falconera (Roses) 9/1996]. Baleares: Ballesteros, Álvarez and Mateo (1986). Canarias: Ortea et al. (2001, 2003), Moro et al. (2003), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Madeira: Wirtz (1995a,b, 1999). Azores: Wirtz (1995b, 1998), Ávila et al. (1998), Ávila (2000), Malaquias (2001), Wirtz and Debelius (2003).

    General: Barletta, 1981:79; Bergh, 1883a:322; 1884:750; Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:143[P]; Demir, 1954:574; Fez Sanchez, 1974:67; Mazzarelli, 1903:293; Nobre, 1936:25; 1938-40:65; Nordsieck, 1972:66; Pruvot-Fol, 1937:71; 1954b:352[P]; Riedl, 1983:321; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:148[P]; Vayssiere, 1901a:103; 1902a:243; 1913a:255; Wagele & Schminke, 1987:[P]

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

Similar species
Tritonia nilsodhneri is a much smaller species, with opaque white or grayish translucent body, no white lines, and can be confused with juveniles of M.blainvillea.


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

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Marionia blainvillea based on our own records.


Marionia blainvillea by Pascal Girard



More pictures


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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:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2021) "Marionia blainvillea" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 16/05/2012. Accessed: 21/01/2021. Available at (

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