Phidiana lynceus

Phidiana lynceus  Bergh, 1867

Phidiana lynceus @ Lake Worth Lagoon, Florida 3-06-2012 by Anne DuPont

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Superorder: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817
Suborder: Dexiarchia  Schrödl, Wägele & Willan, 2001
Infraorder: Cladobranchia  Willan & Morton, 1984
Parvorder: Aeolidida  Odhner, 1934
Superfamily: Aeolidioidea  J.E. Gray, 1827
Family: Facelinidae  Bergh, 1889
Genus: Phidiana  J.E. Gray, 1850
Species: Phidiana lynceus  Bergh, 1867


  • Phidiana brevicauda Engel, 1925
  • Phidiana selencae Bergh, 1879

Elongated body up to 30 mm in length, has a great chromatic variability, which has led many misidentification of species that subsequently had to be synonimized with the original description by Rudolph Bergh. Some descriptions indicate that it has the back of orange color, with a blue stripe that runs down the middle of the back and orange sides, others describe the body of dark color, even greenish, but the most common pattern is translucent gray body color with a characteristic narrow, white dorsal midline, which bifurcates between the rhinophores and continues to the oral tentacles, and another white line running along the sides of the body, below the cerata. The front part of the foot is prominent and slightly rounded. The cerata are elongated, brown with a white tip. Oral tentacles are relatively long and have an orange pigmentation on the inner side, as surrounding the mouth. The rhinophores are ringed, have a translucent base, a more or less defined orange band in the middle and a yellowish tip. The coloration of the head, oral tentacles and rhinophores is very variable, which has caused some confusion in the taxonomy.

It feeds on the polyps of the hydrarian Myrionema amboinense (the animal is feeding on them in the video below), a species harboring zooxantella algae in its tissues. It is believed that Phidiana lynceus separates the photosynthetic zooxanthellae and the stinging nematocysts of the hydrarian before digesting it. Both types of cells remain active in the nudibranch tissues: zooxanthellae perform photosynthesis and complement the nutrition of the animal, while nematocysts migrate to the tips of the cerata where they are stored in the white tips (the cnidocysts) as a defence against potential predators. However, cases of attack and cannibalism have been observed in captive specimens, since the absence of hydrarians make them seeking food in other specimens of the same species, a behavior that seems to be quite common among larger aeolidaceans (Marcus, 1955: 471; Lance, 1962: 159; Edmunds, 1964: 18).


  • Lynceus, from Latin “lyncea”, lynx, caracal.

Phidiana lynceus is common in shallow waters, mangroves, rocky habitats and reefs. It has been cited in both the western coasts and the eastern coasts of the Atlantic Ocean: in the East it has been reported on the coast of Ghana and the Canary Islands (García-García et al., 2008; Skoglund, 2002) while the West it has been cited in Florida, Mexico (East coast of Yucatan), Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela, Bahamas, Jamaica, Virgin Islands, St. Martin, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire and Brazil (Rio de Janeiro and the coast of São Paulo) in several papers (García-García et al, 2008;. Keen, 1971; Sanvicente-Añorve et al, 2012;. Skoglund, 2002; Valdes et al. 2006). There are some reports of this species in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Panama (Bertsch, 1979; Keen, 1971; Skoglund, 2002) and in Galapagos (James, 2013).

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


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


‘The Lynx Nudibranch’ from Coral Morphologic on Vimeo.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas et al. (2012-2017) "Phidiana lynceus" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/03/2016, Accessed: 18/12/2017 at (

In order to copy this cite or text fragments you must be a registered user.