Trapania hispalensis

Trapania hispalensis  Cervera & Garcia-Gómez, 1989

Trapania hispalensis by João Pedro Silva
















































Trapania lineata   Haefelfinger, 1960

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 140043).
Taxonomic note: It is virtually impossible to visually distinguish specimens of Trapania hispalensis from Trapania tartanella, despite a radular analysis allows to differentiate them perfectly, according to the scheme published at Bill Rudman’s Sea Slug Forum and that we reproduce here:

Comparativa radula T.hispalensis (A) y T.tartanella (B)

Comparing radula of Trapania hispalensis (A) and Trapania tartanella (B)

The body is limaciform, relatively thick, with a maximum length of about 20mm, although it usually measures about 10mm. The body base color is translucent white, allowing the visceral mass to be seen by transparency, and it is covered with a fine, very diffuse opaque white punctuation, more apparent in certain areas such as the upper part of the tail. Some specimens have been observed with a more or less intense reddish-brown coloration on the back, and over it an opaque white pigmentation that can be very fine or form small linear spots. It has cylindrical appendages located on the external side of rhinophores and gills, somewhat curved towards the center of the body and backwards, which are characteristic of all species of the genus. The distal ends of rhinophores, gills, extrarinophoric and extrabranchial processes, as well as the upper part of the tail end are yellow or yellowish-orange, sometimes golden. Rhinophores are not retractile and have about 10-12 lamellae at their distal end. Sometimes a small yellow spot is seen between the rhinophores. Gills are composed by 3 large tripinnate gill leaves, the central leaf larger than the other two, and sometimes there are also two barely visible additional bipinnate gill leaves, arranged around the anterior part of the anal pore. The oral tentacles are finger-shaped, while the propodial tentacles are broad at their base and curved backwards. These tentacles can be totally coloured in yellow or only in their posterior dorsal part. The edge of the foot may have small orange-lined dots. The tail is pointed.

It lives on rocky bottoms, on sponges belonging to the genus Ircinia, although it actually feeds on small animals that grow on sponges called entoprocts. It reproduces between the months of March and June. The spawn consists of a ribbon about 25mm long by 2mm wide, with white eggs of about 80 microns. This species is usually parasitized by the copepod of the genus Splanchnotrophus Hancock and Norman, 1863, which usually attacks the animal from behind the gill, embracing the entire visceral mass.


  • Trapania. The original generic name of this species was Drepania, proposed by Lafont in 1874. Pruvot-Fol in 1931 proposed changing the generic name to Trapania to disambiguate it from Drepania Hübner, 1816 (a group of lepidoptera). Madame Pruvot-Fol does not indicate the origin of the name, but there are two theories: the first would be dedicated to the city of Trapani, the province capital of western Sicily; the second would be inspired on the original generic name Drepania, derived from the Greek “Drepane” which means “sickle” and presumably refers to the shape of the appendages located on the sides of the rhinophores and gills in this genus. Pruvot Fol would have chosen the new name on the basis that it has the same meaning, but not the same sound and thus avoid confusion..
  • Hispalensis, from “Hispalis”, the name of the city of Seville in Roman times, which in turn is the Latinization of “Spal” or “Ispal”, the name of the Turdetani (successors to the people of Tartessos) village on which the Romans settled.

In the Atlantic it has been observed from the Arcachon Bay (France) in the north, to the Strait of Gibraltar. In the Mediterranean it apparently frequent throughout the Alboran Sea, although each possible find must be studied since it can be easily confused with Trapania tartanella.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Trapania hispalensis
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions

Similar species
Trapania tartanella, with an almost identical external appearance, they can only be differentiated by the radular teeth, since T. tartanella the most developed radular denticle is the most external marginal one, while in T. hispalensis the most developed is the second most external denticle. The probability of observation, taking into account the type locality, means that Mediterranean specimens are usually T. tartanella (Naples type locality, Italy) while Atlantic specimens are usually T. hispalensis (Cádiz type locality, Spain) (Ballesteros et al., 2019: p.185).


    Western Mediterranean: ★☆☆☆☆
    Eastern Mediterranean: ☆☆☆☆☆
    Atlantic Ocean: ★☆☆☆☆

This chart displays the monthly observation probability for Trapania hispalensis based on our own records.



More pictures


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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas (2023) "Trapania hispalensis" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 14/10/2013. Accessed: 05/03/2024. Available at (

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