Peltodoris atromaculata

  • Peltodoris atromaculata (Bergh, 1880)

Peltodoris atromaculata @ Costa Brava, Spain by Enric Madrenas













































Peltodoris atromaculata  Bergh, 1880

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 509315).

  • Discodoris atromaculata (Bergh, 1880)

This is a big species, as it can reach up to 12 cm in length. The body is flattened with a rounded or oval contour, when the animal is at rest. It is distinctive by its body chromatic design: white background dorsum decorated with rounded spots of various sizes, coloured dark brown, almost black. The dark spots on the back tend to be larger in the center than at the margins and its density can vary widely among individuals. The dorsal spots remain in preserved animals. The back has leathery consistence because of the spicules present in the mantle tissues, it also has numerous small conical protuberances. The rhinophores are totally white, both the laminar portion (with 20-25 tight lamellae) and the basal portion (without lamellae). The rhinophoric sheath is slightly elevated and also has conical tubercles; its upper edge has irregular tubercles, some coloured dark brown. The gill is composed of up to 8 white gill leaves with the central axis coloured light brown. The gill sheath is also tuberculate. Gill leaves are fully retractable. The foot and the underside of the mantle are white. The foot is large and protrudes slightly below the mantle at the posterior zone, forming something like a rounded tail. The internal organs can give a soft pink hue to the central portion of the foot. The mouth has a pair of fine oral palps.

This species of nudibranch is common in dimly lit rocky bottoms, at the entrance of caves and in coralligenous bottoms, wandering or on the sponge Petrosia ficiformis it feeds on. Ocassionally it is found on the sea sponge Haliclona fulva, but it has not been confirmed wether it feeds on it or not. Also found in commercial trawler bottoms about 100 m deep. Once on the sponge, this sea slug is very sedentary so it can remain on it for several days and then the radula scraped areas are easily seen on the sponge surface. Occasionally, several individuals of different sizes may be observed on the same sponge, there is a record of up to 27 specimens over a large size sponge. The nudibranch extracts its food from the sponge, while accumulating in the digestive gland secondary metabolites called “petroformines” (of the acetylenes group) that have revealed to be highly cytotoxic in laboratory experiments and that the animal possibly uses as a chemical defense mechanism (Àvila, 1995) . It is common for animals kept in aquarium that they autotomize marginal mantle portions when disturbed, presumably as another defensive mechanism. The spawn is an spiralled ribbon of 3-4 turns and 4 cm in diameter and about 15 mm high, with white eggs measuring about 180 microns (Schmekel & Portmann, 1982).


  • Doris, is a marine divinity that gives name to the doridacean nudibranchs. She was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys and also married the sea god Nereus. They were the parents of the 50 sea nymphs or Nereids.
  • Atro- is the default form of the Latin word ater, which means black.
  • Maculata , from the latin maculatus=spotted
  • Pelto- from Latin pellis= skin, hide

This is a southern European species and one of the most abundant nudibranchs in the Mediterranean and one that also lives in the next Atlantic coasts (Dayrat, 2010). It has been cited in many coastal areas of the Mediterranean, both in the eastern and western basins. In the Atlantic it has been observed off the coast of Asturias, in Portugal, the Canary islands, Açores, Madeira and the Strait of Gibraltar. Apart from the above locations, in the Iberian Peninsula it has been cited in all Mediterranean coastal areas and in the Balearic islands. In Catalunya it is found in almost all localities of the Costa Brava.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Peltodoris atromaculata
: 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 Peltodoris atromaculata based on our own records.



More pictures


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    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) "Peltodoris atromaculata" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 16/05/2012. Accessed: 28/02/2024. Available at (

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