Flabellina affinis

Flabellina affinis (Gmelin, 1791)

Flabellina affinis by Enric Madrenas

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Clade: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817
Suborder: Dexiarchia  Schrödl, Wägele & Willan, 2001
Infraorder: Cladobranchia Willan & Morton, 1984
Parvorder: Aeolidida Odhner, 1934
Superfamily: Flabellinoidea  Bergh, 1889
Family: Flabellinidae  Bergh, 1889
Genus: Flabellina  Voigt, 1834
Species: Flabellina affinis (Gmelin, 1791) [Doris]



  • Doris affinis Gmelin, 1791 (original)
  • Eolidia flabellina Vérany, 1846

This is a species that can reach up to 50 mm in length. The body is translucent and the overall coloration is pink-purple, the foot of a slightly lighter shade. Oral and propodial palps are also coloured pink-purple. The rhinophores are thin, annulated and of the same color of the body. The apex of oral palps and rhinophores is usually whitish. The cerata are long, narrow and pointed, semitransparent, with a light violet color except the upper third, that is somewhat darker; usually with a whitish apex. Within each cerata there is a diverticula of the digestive gland seen as a thin reddish-brown cord. The cerata are gathered in 7-8 groups on both sides of the body; The cerata of each group grow up from some thick lateral appendages of the body (like pods) which in turn are subdivided into 2-3 smaller appendages, each of these having 3-4 cerata. These pods from where the cerata grow are coloured pink and in certain specimens there are little darker violet spots. The genital openings are located below the first group of cerata on the right side of the body. The foot is narrow and semitransparent.

This is one of the most colorful, abundant and easy to identify nudibranchs on European shores. As most aeolidacean nudibranchs, it feeds on hydroids, in this case of the athecate genus Eudendrium (E. ramosum, E.racemosum ), on whose arborescent colonies it is usually localized, often sharing food and substrate with another very frequent aeolidacean, Cratena peregrina. It is generally found between 5 and 20 m deep. F. affinis usually spawns on the hydrarian forming an undulating pink cord laid somewhat wildly; the cord width is about 0.5 mm and the eggs 90 microns in diameter are placed tightly inside of it. It is not uncommon to find specimens with parasiting copepods, easy distinguishable on the animal’s dorsum, between the cerata, because of their egg sacks forming a very apparent white lace.


  • Flabellina derived of Latin Flabellum, meaning “fan”.
  • Affinis, means “alike, resemblant, similar”.

This is one of the most frequent and widely distributed opisthobranchs found in European waters. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been cited in all coasts but in the Cantabrian coast and Galicia. It has also been cited in the Balearic and Canary islands. In Catalonia it is present in all rocky shores, wherever its food grows.

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

References for the species: Flabellina affinis

    Portugal: García-Gómez et al. (1991), Calado and Urgorri (1999), Calado et al. (1999). Andalucía (Atl.): García-Gómez (1984a), Cervera and García-Gómez (1986), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1982, 1986a, 2002), Schulze and Wägele (1998), García-Gómez et al. (1989). Andalucía (Med.): Luque (1983, 1986), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Cervera, López-González and García-Gómez (1998), Schick (1998), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Fez (1974), Templado (1982b), Ballesteros (1983), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Marín and Ros (1987), Templado et al. (2002). Catalunya: Vicente (1964), Ros (1975, 1978b, 1985a,b), Ros & Altimira (1977), Ballesteros (1980, 1985), Pereira (1980, 1981), Altimira et al. (1981), Pereira & Ballesteros (1982), Huelin & Ros (1984), Domènech et al. (2002), M@re Nostrum [La Foradada (Portbou) 10/1999, Cap Ras (Llançà) 11/1998, Cap Gros (El Port de la Selva) 9/1999, Cap de Creus (Cadaqués) 8/2003, Illa Mateua (L'Escala) 5/1999, Cova del Tamariu (Roses) 10/1999, Punta del Bisbe (Roses) 10/1999, Illes Medes (L'Estartit) 6/1999, Cala Margarida (Palamós) 4/1998, Mar Menuda (Tossa de Mar) 10/1999]. Baleares: Ros (1975, 1978b, 1981), Ballesteros (1981b, 1985), Ballesteros, Llera and Ortea (1985). Canarias: Pérez Sánchez, Ortea and Bacallado (1990), Pérez Sánchez, Bacallado and Ortea (1991), Moro et al. (1995, 2003), Ortea and Espinosa (1998), Ortea et al. (2001), Wirtz and Debelius (2003).

    General: Barletta, 1981:101[P]; Bergh, 1875:649; 1885:49; Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:159[P]; Fez Sanchez, 1974:103; Hirano & Thompson, 1990:[P]; Luque, 1983:69; Mazzarelli, 1903:288; Mienis & Gat, 1981a:416; Nordsieck, 1972:73; O'Donoghue, 1929:749; Perrone, 1986a:31; Pruvot-Fol, 1954b:413; Riedl, 1970:431; 1983:326; Schmekel, 1970:138; 1973b:325; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:189[P]; Trinchese, 1887:227; 1887a:88; Vayssiere, 1888d:80; 1913a:294; Vicente, 1963a:178; 1967:160; 1981:79; 1991:[P]; Wagele & Schminke, 1987:[P]

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


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Flabellina affinis based on our own records.

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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Flabellina affinis" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 17/05/2012, Accessed: 18/12/2017 at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/uGvW0)

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