Felimare villafranca

Felimare villafranca (Risso, 1818)

Felimare villafranca 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

References for the species: Felimare villafranca

    Cantabria: Hidalgo (1916), Ros (1975, as Glossodoris gracilis), Ávila et al. (1991), Ávila Escartín (1993), Fontana et al. (1993), Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996). Galicia: Ortea (1977c, as G. gracilis), Urgorri and Besteiro (1983, as Hypselodoris gracilis), Otero and Trigo (1987, as H. gracilis), Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996). Portugal: De Oliveira (1895, as Chromodoris villafranca and C. gracilis), Nobre (1932, as Chromodoris), Saldanha (1974, as Glossodoris gracilis), García-Gómez et al. (1991), Calado et al. (1999, 2003), Macedo, Macedo and Borges (1999), Muzavor and Morenito (1999), Malaquias and Morenito (2000), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Andalucía (Atl.): Cervera and García-Gómez (1986), García-Gómez, Medina and Coveñas (1991), Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1982, as G. gracilis), García-Gómez et al. (1989), García-Gómez, Medina and Coveñas (1991), Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996). Andalucía (Med.): Luque (1983, 1986, both as H. gracilis), Salas and Luque (1986, as G. gracilis), Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996), Schick (1998), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al. (2000), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Fez (1974, as G. gracilis), Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984, all as H. gracilis), Ballesteros et al. (1986, as H. gracilis), Marín and Ros (1987), Templado et al. (2002). Catalunya: Ros (1975, 1978b, 1985a), Ros & Altimira (1977), Ballesteros (1980, 1985), Pereira (1980), Altimira et al. (1981), Pereira & Ballesteros (1982), Huelin & Ros (1984), Ávila (1993), Ortea et al. (1996), Domènech et al. (2002), M@re Nostrum [Cala Guillosa (El Port de la Selva) 7/1999, Illa Mateua (L'Escala) 4/1998, Cala Aiguafreda (Begur) 4/2000, Cala Llevadó (Tossa de Mar) 3/1998]. En todos los registros hasta 1985, citada como Glossodoris gracilis o H. gracilis. Baleares: Ros (1981b, as G. gracilis), Ballesteros (1981a, as G. gracilis), Dekker (1986).

    General: Cattaneo-Vietti, Chemello, & Giannuzzi-Savelli, 1990:81[P]; Schmekel & Portmann, 1982:68[P]

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


    Western Mediterranean:2 out of 5 stars
    Eastern Mediterranean:0 out of 5 stars
    Atlantic Ocean:0 out of 5 stars

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Felimare villafranca based on our own records.


Felimare villafranca by Pascal Girard


More pictures


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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2021) "Felimare villafranca" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 16/05/2012. Accessed: 04/03/2021. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/z7O5B)

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