Felimare villafranca

Felimare villafranca (Risso, 1818)

Felimare villafranca @ L'Escala by Enric Madrenas
















































Felimare villafranca  (Risso, 1818)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 597536).

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 coerulea (Risso, 1818)
  • Chromodoris messinensis Ihering, 1880
  • Doris caerulea Risso, 1826 (synonym)
  • Doris coerulea Risso, 1818
  • Doris gracilis Rapp, 1827
  • Doris pasini Vérany, 1846
  • Doris pulcherrima Cantraine, 1835
  • Doris schultzii Delle Chiaje, 1841
  • Doris tenera O. G. Costa
  • Doris villae Vérany, 1846
  • Doris villafranca Risso, 1818 (original)
  • Hypselodoris villafranca (Risso, 1818)
  • Hypselodoris gracilis (Rapp, 1827)

This species of chromodorid can reach a size of about 30 mm in length, although there are reports of Mediterranean specimens of 50mm. The body is slender, slim and coloured dark blue, but the characteristic trait of the species are the yellow lines present on the back and sides of the body. Among these yellow lines there is a submarginal one, bordering the entire dorsum, and a central dorsal one flanked by 1-2 lines on both sides which may be continuous, discontinuous, and join or not to each other. The central and lateral yellow lines join ahead of rhinophores, also surrounding the base of the rhinophores and the branchial sheath. Ortea et al. (1995) have studied the color and variability of this species suggest that the greater the size of the animal, the more complicated the design of the yellow lines. Some specimens of appreciable size may be somewhat depigmented, having a light blue coloured body. The back usually has many elongated turquoise spots aligned between the submarginal and lateral yellow lines. The flanks of the body also have yellow or white longitudinal lines and elongated turquoise spots, as in the back. The rhinophores are dark blue and have 15-18 lamellae in larger animals. Rhinophores’ lamellae are connected in the rear side forming a white zigzag line. The gill is composed by 8-10 semitransparent, dark blue leaves with an iridescent white rachis. The foot is narrow, blue, somewhat lighter coloured on the leading edge. The mouth has two short labial palps.

This is a relatively common species throughout most of the year in all kinds of rocky substrates, from the intertidal zone down to 30-40m depth; it has also been captured at about 100 m depth in commercial trawl fisheries. It is also common in meadows of Posidonia oceanica (Templado, 1984). It has been said that feeds the sponge Dysidea fragilis, from which it obtains the longifoline, a furanosesquiterpenoid which is its main defense alomone; it builds up in the animal’s mantle glands (MDF’s), present in the mantle edge, both at the height of the rhinophores as in the post-gill area (García-Gómez et al 1991;. Fontana et al. 1993; Àvila, 1993). The spawn consists of a semitransparent ribbon wound in a one turn and half spiral, containing about 400 orange or yellowish eggs of about 350 microns in diameter. The development is direct, without free veliger larva stage (Gantés, 1962).


  • Villafranca. Dedicated to the town of Villefranche-sur-Mer, a French city located in the department of Alpes-Maritimes, in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, home of an oceanographic station dependent of the University Pierre and Marie Curie. Under the direction of the CNRS it is home to three scientific research laboratories (oceanography, marine geosciences and cell biology), with about 150 working people.

Felimare villafranca is distributed from the Atlantic coast of Brittany, the Atlantic coast of Morocco and all around the Mediterranean, both in the eastern and western basins. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been found in all coastal areas, also in the Balearic islands. Its absence from the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores may be due, as indicated by Ortea et al. (1995), to the embryonic direct development type, with no larval stage that allows planktonic dispersion. In the Catalan coast it has been cited in numerous locations in the Costa Brava, also in Llavaneres, in the port of Tarragona and in the Port of l’Estany (Tarragona).

Known georeferenced records of the species: Felimare villafranca
: 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 villafranca based on our own records.



More pictures


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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, M., Madrenas, E. & Pontes, M. (2023) "Felimare villafranca" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 16/05/2012. Accessed: 18/05/2024. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/?p=468)

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