Hypselodoris pulchella

Hypselodoris pulchella (Rüppell & Leuckart, 1830)

Hypselodoris pulchella @ Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt (Red Sea) 27/09/1996 by Erwin Köhler
















































Hypselodoris pulchella  (Rüppell & Leuckart, 1830)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 597870).

  • Chromodoris pulchella (Rüppell & Leuckart, 1830)
  • Doris pulchella Rüppell & Leuckart, 1830 (original)
  • Risbecia pulchella (Rüppell & Leuckart, 1830)

Body with a maximum recorded length of 110mm. The mantle is white or creamy white with numerous small yellow orange spots. The edge of the mantle has a light purple thin band with a series of irregular purple patches growing from the edge into the body, quite variable from one specimen to another and very small in juveniles, that form a reticulate of pale purple hue all over the mantle in mature specimens. The underside of the mantle is white with yellow orange spots and there is a light purple border somewhat wider than the upperside dorsal margin. The front of the mantle forms a large veil that continuously waves when the animal is moving. The sides of the body and the foot are white with yellow-orange spots and the tappered tip of foot has traces of the pale purple reticulate pattern similar to the one on the dorsum, and a light purple edge. The rhinophore stalk is white with a deep purple club with 15-16 lamellae and a white median line on the anterior and posterior sides. The gills are translucent white and edged in purple, often branched and numerous (from 20 to 30) in mature specimens.

Very little is known about its diet. The study of the gut contents of this species revealed the presence of small fragments of polychaete worms, copepods and very few algal filaments, together with a considerable amount of calcareous sponge spicules, so it seems probable that it feeds on sponges and accidentally eats the other organisms (Aboul-Ela, 1959). When recently spawned, the egg ribbon is reddish orange and it is attached along one edge in a spiral, the free edge being slightly wavy. The anterior part of the mantle waves up and down when the animal is moving. The gills are often waved rhythmically from side to side. There is a characteristic trailing behaviour found in this species, where pairs of animals are often found following each other in single row, the second animal in the line touching the ‘tail’ of the one in front. There are two other dorid species sharing part of the distribution range that could be easily confused with Hypselodoris pulchella: Hypselodoris ghardaqana and Goniobranchus annulatus. Gohar & Aboul-Ela (1957) give differentiation keys that we synthethise in the following comparison chart:

Hypselodoris pulchellaGoniobranchus annulatusHypselodoris ghardaqana
Dorsum colorCreamy white w/yellow spots, purple difuse reticulatranslucent white w/yellow spots, purple circleswhite w/yellow spots
Max.size 110 x 30 mm64 x 20 mm55 x 13 mm
Rhinophoreslong, dark blue w/white axislong, conical, deep purpleshort, reddish purple w/pink red axis
Gills20-30, branched, kept vertical, vibratile9-12, not branched, kept vertical, vibratile9-11, not branched, kept horizontal, non-vibratile
Egg-Ribbonreddish orange, free edge wavycreamy white, free edge not wavywhite, free edge slightly wavy, single layer of eggs
Hypselodoris pulchella

Hypselodoris pulchella

Goniobranchus annulatus

Goniobranchus annulatus

Hypselodoris ghardaqana

Hypselodoris ghardaqana

Picture creditsErwin Köhler ©Miquel Pontes ©Brian Mayes ©


  • Hypselodoris. From Greek “hypsos”, height, high + “Doris”, a sea nymph in Greek mythology, wife of Nereus, nymph of the waters and mother of Nereids.
  • Pulchella. From Latin “pulchellus”, nice, charming.

This species is widespread in the Indopacific (it has been cited in Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, Kenya, Mozambique, Réunion, South Africa, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran) and is common in the Red Sea. A report from Calkidiki, Greece (Savvidis, L., 2/11/2016), still unpublished, is the first record in the Mediterranean, and is probably related to a Lessepsian dispersion event.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Hypselodoris pulchella
: 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 Hypselodoris pulchella based on our own records.

More pictures


    Aboul Ela, I. A. 1959. On the food of nudibranchs. Biol. Bull. 117(3):439-442.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2023. OPK - Opistobranquis. (https://opistobranquis.info/).
    Bergbauer, M. 1998. Bizarre Schonheiten, Teil 1: marine Nachtschnecken der Ordnung  Nudibranchia. Aquarium (Bornheim) 351:33-40.
    Debelius, H. 1998. Red Sea reef guide : Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Arabian Peninsula (Oman, UAE, Bahrain). IKAN-Unterwasserarchiv.
    Debelius, H. 1996. Nudibranchs and Sea Snails: Indo-Pacific Field Guide. IKAN-Unterwasserarchiv, Frankfurt, Germany, 321 pp, 1000+ color illus.
    Debelius, H., and R. H. Kuiter. 2007. Nudibranchs of the world. IKAN- Unterwasserarchiv, Frankfurt.
    Dekker, H., and Z. Orlin. 2000. Check-list of Red Sea Mollusca. Spirula, Newsletter Vita Marina  Mededelingenblad 47(suppl.):1-46.
    Garcia, F. J., and H. Bertsch. 2009. Diversity and distribution of the Gastropoda Opisthobranchia from the Atlantic Ocean: A global biogeographic approach. Scientia Marina. 73: 153–160.
    Gohar, H. A. F., and I. A. Aboul Ela. 1957. The development of three chromodorids (with the description of a new species). Pub. Mar. Biol. Sta., Al-Ghardaqa (9):203-228, pls. 1-5.
    Gosliner, T. M. 1987. Nudibranchs of Southern Africa; A guide to Opisthobranchs Molluscs of Southern Africa. Sea Challengers and Jeff Hamann. Monterey, California, EEUU: 136 pp.
    Gosliner, T., D. W. Behrens, and Á. Valdés. 2008. Indo-Pacific nudibranchs and sea slugs : a field guide to the world’s most diverse fauna. Sea Challengers Natural History Books ; California Academy of Sciences, Gig Harbor, Wash., U.S.A.; San Francisco, Calif., U.S.A.
    Johnson, R. F., and T. M. Gosliner. 2012. Traditional Taxonomic Groupings Mask Evolutionary History: A Molecular Phylogeny and New Classification of the Chromodorid Nudibranchs. PLoS ONE. 7.
    Rudman, W. B. 1987. The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: Chromodoris epicura, C. aureopurpurea, C. annulata, C. coi and Risbecia tryoni colour groups. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 90: 305-407.
    Rudman, W. B. 1984. The Chromodorididae (Opisthobranchia: Mollusca) of the Indo-West Pacific: a review of the genera. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 81: 115–273.
    Rudman, W. B. 2003. Risbecia ghardaqana and R. pulchella. [Message in] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Sea Slug Forum. (http://www.seaslugforum.net/find/9625).
    Rudman W.B. et al. 1998. Risbecia pulchella accessed through: Sea Slug Forum on 2014-12-14. (http://seaslugforum.net/showall/risbpulc).
    Rüppell, E., and F. S. Leuckart. 1828. Mollusca [in] Atlas zu des Reise im Nordlichen Afrika von Eduard Rüppell. 1. Abth. Zoologie. 5. Neue wirbellose Thiere des Rothen Meers. Frankfurt, H.L. Brönner pp. 1-22, pl. 1-12 [1828], pp. 23-47 [probably 1830].
    Sandberg, L., and A. Waren. 1993. Molluscan taxa introduced by Nils Hjalmar Odhner. Malakologische Abhandlungen (Staatliches Museum fur Tierkunde Dresden) 16(15):117-134.
    Tonozuka, T. 2003. Opisthobranchs of Bali and Indonesia. Hankyu Communications  Co., Ltd.
    Wilson, N. G. 2005. Sperm ultrastructure of the Actinocyclidae (Mollusca, Nudibranchia) and homology  of the terminal region of nudibranch sperm. Invertebrate Reproduction & Development 47(1):1-9.
    Wilson, N. G. 2002. Egg masses of chromodorid nudibranchs (Mollusca : Gastropoda : Opisthobranchia). Malacologia. 44: 289–305.
    WoRMS Editorial Board. 2023. World Register of Marine Species. WoRMS. (http://www.marinespecies.org).
    Yonow, N. 2008. Sea slugs of the Red Sea. 304 pp. Sofia-Moscow: Pensoft.
    Yonow, N. 1990. Red Sea Opisthobranchia. 3. The orders Sacoglossa, Cephalaspidea, and Nudibranchia: Doridacea (Mollusca, Opisthobranchia). Fauna of Saudi Arabia : 286-299.
    Yonow, N. 1989. Red Sea Opisthobranchia 2: the family Chromodorididae (Mollusca, Nudibranchia). Fauna of Saudi Arabia 10:290-309.
    Yonow, N. 2012. Opisthobranchs from the western Indian Ocean, with descriptions of two new species and ten new records (Mollusca, Gastropoda). ZooKeys. 197: 1–129.
    Yonow, N. 2008. Opisthobranchs of the Gulf of Eilat and the Red Sea: an account of similarities and differences, pp. 177-196. In: F. Por (Ed.). Aqaba - Eilat, The improbable gulf. Environment, biodiversity and preservation. Magnum Press, Jerusalem.
    Yonow, N., R. C. Anderson, and S. G. Buttress. 2002. Opisthobranch molluscs from the Chagos Archipelago, Central Indian Ocean. Journal of Natural History36(7):831-882; illus.

    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:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas (2023) "Hypselodoris pulchella" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 07/11/2016. Accessed: 27/02/2024. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/?p=22742)

To copy this cite click on the right button.