Felimare picta

Felimare picta (Schultz in Philippi, 1836)

Felimare picta @ Costa Brava by Enric Madrenas
















































Felimare picta  (R. A. Philippi, 1836)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 597522).

Taxonomic note: The European Atlantic and Mediterranean species of the genus Chromodoris and Hypselodoris have been reconsidered. After molecular analysis of the Chromodorididae performed by Johnson & Gosliner (2012, Traditional taxonomic groupings mask evolutionary history: A molecular phylogeny and new classification of the chromodorid nudibranchs. PLoS ONE 7(4): 33479) the Hypselodoris species have been included in the genus Felimare Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus, 1967 and the Chromodoris species have been included in the genus Felimida Ev. Marcus, 1971.


  • Chromodoris cantrainii Bergh, 1879
  • Chromodoris elegans (Cantraine, 1835)
  • Chromodoris valenciennesi (Cantraine, 1841)
  • Doris calcarae Vérany, 1846
  • Doris elegans Cantraine, 1835
  • Doris lutescens Delle Chiaje in Verany, 1846
  • Doris nardi Vérany, 1846
  • Doris nardii Vérany, 1846
  • Doris picta Schultz in Philippi, 1836 (original)
  • Doris scacchi Delle Chiaje, 1830
  • Doris valenciennesi Cantraine, 1841
  • Glossodoris edenticulata White, 1952
  • Glossodoris picta (Schultz in Philippi, 1836)
  • Glossodoris valenciennesi (Cantraine, 1841)
  • Glossodoris webbi (d’Orbigny, 1839)
  • Goniodoris elegans (Cantraine, 1835)
  • Hypselodoris edenticulata (White, 1952)
  • Hypselodoris elegans (Cantraine, 1835)
  • Hypselodoris picta (Schultz in Philippi, 1836)
  • Hypselodoris picta picta (Schultz in Philippi, 1836)
  • Hypselodoris picta webbi (d’Orbigny, 1839)
  • Hypselodoris valenciennesi (Cantraine, 1841)
  • Hypselodoris webbi (d’Orbigny, 1839)
  • Polycera webbi d’Orbigny, 1839

This is the largest species of European chromodorididae because it can reach more than 12 cm in length, although there are reports of animals about 20 cm in length. The body is very elongated, tall, with a narrow mantle that barely surpasses the foot on the sides. The mantle widens somewhat at the head, forming an incipient cephalic veil. The background color of the body is white or slightly bluish but on this color there are numerous elongated stains or yellow scores that vary in number and arrangement on each different specimen. The yellow scores are also present on the sides of the body. This is the typical “clear” coloring pattern, but there are less frequent blue colored specimens on which the background color is blue and there are less yellow scores. The rhinophores are not very big and have the same color of the body, but the apex which is bluish. The lamellae grow from the upper two thirds of the rhinophore, its base is smooth and the rhinophoric sheath is slightly elevated with the upper edge smooth and colored yellow. The gill consists of 10-12 yellowish-green or slightly bluish leaves deppending on the specimens, which are kept close together when they are extended. Gill leaves are relatively narrow and have thin lamellae on either side of the rachis. The branchial sheath is quite high, with a smooth edge and also has yellow spots and scores. Often the dorsum yellow lines converge towards the upper edge of gill sheath. The foot is white or slightly bluish, ahead mouth there are two small blue tipped oral tentacles. The tail is robust and also has yellow spots, its end is usually colored bluish.

This species is relatively common in dimly lit rock walls with abundant algae, sponges and other invertebrates, from the upper subtidal zone down to 50 m in the Mediterranean. Its diet consists of sponges like Dysidea fragilis, Ircinia fasciculata and Pleraplysilla spinifera (Nybakken & McDonald, 2001). The spawn consists of an spiral ribbon of about 6 mm high with orange eggs with a diameter of 170 microns (Ortea, et al. 1996). Along most of the mantle edge, but mainly at the level of the rhinophores, sides and behind the gill there are numerous whitish glands (or mantle dermal formations – MDF) containing a substance, the longifoline, that is expelled out if the animal is disturbed and has a strong anti-predatory action and is therefore of defensive action.


  • Picta. From Latin Pictus, painted.

F. picta has been cited both in the western Atlantic coast (Florida, Gulf of Mexico) and in the eastern Atlantic, from Angola to Cape Verde, the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores, the Iberian Peninsula and all the Mediterranean. In the Iberian Peninsula is known in all Atlantic and Mediterranean coastal areas (Cervera et al., 2004), also in the Balearics. In the Catalan coast it has been observed in many localities of the Costa Brava and in the coast of Tarragona (Folch, 2013). In most of the records prior to 1990 the species has been cited under the names valenciennesi, elegans, or webbi.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Felimare picta
: 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 monthly observation probability for Felimare picta based on our own records.



More pictures


    Aguado F, López González S. 2015. Moluscos Nudibranquios de la Costa Tropical. Asociación Buxus & Ayuntamiento de Motril.
    Almada F, Levy A, Robalo JI. 2016. Not so sluggish: the success of the Felimare picta complex (Gastropoda, Nudibranchia) crossing Atlantic biogeographic barriers. PeerJ 4:e1561. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1561.
    Altimira C, Ros J. 1979. Algunos moluscos marinos de las Islas Canarias. Vieraea 8 (1): 3-12.
    Altimira C, Huelin MF, Ros J. 1981. Mol·luscs bentònics de les illes Medes (Girona). I. Sistemàtica. Butll. Inst. Cat. Hist. Nat. (Sec. Zool.), 47: 69-75.
    Avila C. 1993. Sustancias naturales de moluscos opistobranquios: Estudio de su estructura, origen y función en ecosistemas bentónicos. Tesis Doctoral. Universitat de Barcelona. Universitat de Barcelona.
    Avila C, Durfort M. 1996. Histology of Epithelia and Mantle Glands of Selected Species of Doridacean Mollusks with Chemical Defensive Strategies. Veliger 39(2):148-163.
    Avila S, Malaquias M. 2003. Biogeographical relationships of the molluscan  fauna of the Ormonde Seamount (Gorringe Bank, Northeast Atlantic Ocean). Journal of Molluscan  Studies 69(2):145-150.
    Avila C, Cimino G, Fontana A, et al. 1991. Defensive strategy of two Hypselodoris nudibranchs from Italian and Spanish coast. Journal of Chemical Ecology 17 (3): 625-636.
    Bacallado JJ, Ortea J, Moro L, et al. 2008. Inventario de los moluscos de la marina de Arrecife, Lanzarote. Canarias Conservación.:1–32. Available from https://www.canariasconservacion.org/LA%20MARINA/DOC-16-Inventario%20de%20los%20moluscos%20de%20la%20marina%20de%20arrecife%202008.pdf.
    Ballesteros M. 1984. Nudibranquios: miscelanea de formas y coloraciones. Immersio 3(4):20-24.
    Ballesteros M. 1982. Nota preliminar sobre la fauna de nudibranquios de la isla de Ibiza. Actas II Simposio Ibérico de Estudios del Bentos Marino 3: 229-234.
    Ballesteros M. 2007. Lista actualizada de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 2(3):163–188.
    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. Barcelona: Universitat de Barcelona.
    Ballesteros M, Álvarez C, Mateo B. 1986. Aproximación a la fauna de opistobranquios de la isla de Menorca. Publicaciones del Departamento de Zoología (Barcelona) 12: 93-106.
    Ballesteros M, Pontes M, Madrenas E. 2015. Opisthobranch from Medes Islands (Marine Protected Area, Costa Brava, Catalonia, NE Spain): 40 years of study. Available from https://www.facebook.com/people/5th-International-Workshop-on-Opisthobranchs/100072425991990/.
    Ballesteros M, Madrenas E, Pontes M. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 6:1–28.
    Ballesteros M, Pontes M, Madrenas E. 2019. Els nudibranquis del mar català. Figueres: Brau Edicions. 192 p.
    Ballesteros M, Madrenas E, Pontes M. 2024. OPK - Opistobranquis. Available from https://opistobranquis.info/.
    Barash A, Danin Z. 1971. Opisthobranchia (Mollusca) from the Mediterranean waters of Israel. Israel Journal of Zoology, 20, 151-200.
    Barash A, Danin Z. 1982. Mediterranean Mollusca of Israel and Sinai: composition and distribution. Israel Journal of Zoology, 31, 86-118.
    Barash A, Danin Z. 1988. Contribution to the knowledge of Opisthobranchia of Cyprus. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 24(9-12):243- 260.
    Betti F, Bavestrello G, Cattaneo-Vietti R. 2021. Preliminary evidence of fluorescence in Mediterranean heterobranchs. Journal of Molluscan Studies. 87:eyaa040. https://doi.org/10.1093/mollus/eyaa040.
    Bielecki S, Cavignaux G, Crouzet JM, et al. 2011. Des limaces de rêve.
    Bouchet P, Ortea J. 1980. Quelques Chromodorididae bleus de l’Atlantique Oriental. Annales de l’Institut Océanographique 56(2): 117-125.
    Caballer M, Ortea J, Rivero N, et al. 2015. The opisthobranch gastropods (Mollusca: Heterobranchia) from Venezuela: an annotated and illustrated inventory of species. Zootaxa 4034 (2): 201–256.
    Calado G, Urgorri V, Gaspar R, et al. 1999. Catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios bentónicos de las costas de Setúbal-Espichel (Portugal). Nova Acta Científica Compostelana (Bioloxía) 9: 285-294.
    Calvín Calvo JC. 1995. El ecosistema marino mediterráneo, guía de su fauna y su flora.
    Canessa M, Bavestrello G, Cattaneo-Vietti R, et al. 2021. Rocky substrate affects benthic heterobranch assemblages and prey/predator relationships. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 38: 539-558. 261:1–13. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2021.107568.
    Cattaneo-Vietti R, Chemello R, Giannuzzi-Savelli R. 1990. Atlas of Mediterranean Nudibranchs. Rome, Italy: La Conchiglia. 264 p.
    Cervera JL, Calado G, Gavaia C, et al. 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.
    Crocetta F, Zibrowius H, Bitar G, et al. 2013. Biogeographical homogeneity in the eastern Mediterranean Sea - I: the opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Lebanon. Mediterranean Marine Science, Vol 14, no.2.
    Crocetta F, Bitar G, Zibrowius H, et al. 2020. Increase in knowledge of the marine gastropod fauna of Lebanon since the 19th century. Bulletin of Marine Science. 96(1):1–22. https://doi.org/10.5343/bms.2019.0012.
    Dacosta S, Padula V, Schrödl M. 2010. A new species of Hypselodoris and a redescription of Hypselodoris picta lajensis (Nudibranchia: Chromodorididae) from Brazil. The Veliger 51(1):15-25.
    Dacosta JM, Pontes M, Ollé i Callau A, et al. 2009. Seguiment de mol·luscs opistobranquis a la platja des Caials (Cadaqués, Alt Empordà). Contribució al catàleg del Parc Natural de Cap de Creus. Annals de l’Institut d’Estudis Empordanesos. 40:107–130. https://doi.org/10.2436/20.8010.01.8.
    Domènech A, Ávila C, Ballesteros M. 2006. Opisthobranch molluscs from the subtidal trawling grounds off Blanes (Girona, north-east Spain). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of U.K. 86:383–389.
    Fontana A, Gimenez F, Marin A, et al. 1994. Transfer of Secondary Metabolites from the Sponges Dysidea fragilis and Pleraplysilla spinifera to the Mantle Dermal Formations (MDFs) of the Nudibranch Hypselodoris webbi. Experientia 50(5):510-516.
    Furfaro G, Mariottini P. 2016. Check-list of the Nudibranchs (Mollusca Gastropoda) from the biodiversity hot spot " Scoglio del Corallo " (Argentario promontory, Tuscany). Biodiversity Journal. 7(1):67–78.
    Furfaro G, Modica MV, Oliverio M, et al. 2016. A DNA-barcoding approach to the phenotypic diversity of Mediterranean species of Felimare Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus, 1967 (Mollusca: Gastropoda), with a preliminary phylogenetic analysis. Italian Journal of Zoology. 83(2):1–13. https://doi.org/10.1080/11250003.2016.1150525.
    Furfaro G, Vitale F, Licchelli C, et al. 2020. Two Seas for One Great Diversity: Checklist of the Marine Heterobranchia (Mollusca; Gastropoda) from the Salento Peninsula (South-East Italy). Diversity. 12(12):171.
    Gantès H. 1962. Recherches sur quelques larves de Glossodorididae (Mollusques opisthobranches). Comptes Rendus Société des Sciences Naturelles et Physiques de Maroc 42:267-277.
    García Gómez JC. 1983. Moluscos opistobranquios del Estrecho de Gibraltar y Bahía de Algeciras. Iberus.(3):41–46.
    García-Gómez JC. 1983. Moluscos Opistobranquios del Estrecho de Gibraltar y Bahía de Algeciras. Iberus 3: 41-46.
    Gat G, Mienis HK. 1986. First record of the nudibranch Hypselodoris webbi from the Mediterranean coast of Israel. Zoology of the Middle East 1:120-122.
    Göthel H. 1994. Fauna marina del Mediterráneo. Barcelona: Ediciones Omega. 320 p.
    Haber M, Cerfeda S, Carbone M, et al. 2010. Coloration and Defense in the Nudibranch Gastropod Hypselodoris fontandraui. Biol. Bull. 218: 181–188.
    Huelin MF, Ros J. 1984. Els mol·lucs marins de les illes Medes In: Els sistemes naturals de les Illes Medes. Arxius de la Secció de Ciéncies, J Ros et al (eds) 73: 457-500. IEC. Barcelona, Spain.
    Johnson RF, Gosliner TM. 2012. Traditional Taxonomic Groupings Mask Evolutionary History: A Molecular Phylogeny and New Classification of the Chromodorid Nudibranchs. PLoS ONE. 7(4).
    Long SJ. 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000. Bayside Books & Press, Tustin, CA, U.S.A. 672p.
    Luque AA. 1983. Contribución al conocimiento de los gasterópodos marinos de las costas de Málaga y Granada. Iberus 3: 51-74.
    Malaquías MAE. 2000. Additions to the knowledge of the opisthobranch molluscs of Selvagens Islands, SE Atlantic, Portugal. Arquipélago. supplement 2:89–97.

    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, M., Madrenas, E. & Pontes, M. (2023) "Felimare picta" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 16/05/2012. Accessed: 18/05/2024. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/?p=533)

To copy this cite click on the right button.