Polycera elegans

Polycera elegans (Bergh, 1984)

Polycera elegans Skomer Island, Wales. July 1975 by Bernard Picton
















































Polycera elegans  (Bergh, 1894)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 140833).

  • Greilada elegans Bergh, 1894 (original)
  • Palio espagnoli Tejedo, 1994
  • Polycera atlantica Pruvot-Fol, 1956
  • Polycera messinensis Odhner, 1941

This species of phanerobranch dorid has a lively and distinctive color, ranging from yellow to bright orange with very conspicuous bright blue spots (with a darker edge) scattered on the dorsum and sides of the body, which is smooth. Occasionally there could be small red spots on the blue dots. Some specimens may have dark blue, almost black, round spots on the bottom of the body side walls. The facial veil has small digitations, up to 22, on its anterior edge. Rhinophores also have the same color of the body and have 12-15 lamellae. The mantle joins to the sides of the body with a bluish or white crest with small blue spots, and joins with the other side crest on a dorsal midline right behind the gills. From there, a single line runs along the posterior midline to the tip of the foot; along the crest there can be small conical or slightly elongated tubercles. The gill consists on 5-7 tripinnate leaves of the same color of the body, but with the axes of the branches coloured bluish white; Thompson and Brown (1984) cited at times the presence of a pair of small lateral protrusions on the sides of the gill.

This species is nocturnal and like other closely related species like Thecacera pennigera, it feeds on bryozoans of the species Crisularia (=Bugula) plumosa, Bugulina (=Bugula) flabellata and B. turbinata (McDonald, 1997). It has been reported a 48 mm long specimen in the British Isles, but Canary Islands specimens reach a maximum of 33 mm long, and specimens in the Mediterranean rarely exceed 20 mm long.


  • Polycera. From Greek “polys”, many + “keras”, horns.
  • Elegans. “Elegant” in Latin.

This species is distributed in the Atlantic Ocean, from the shores of England and Ireland, France, the Azores, to the Canary Islands, also in the Western Mediterranean to the east of Italy. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been observed in almost all coastal areas, including in Balearic Islands (Cervera et al. 2004). In the Catalan coast it has been cited in Roses and Es Caials (Cadaqués).

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


    Western Mediterranean:0 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 Polycera elegans based on our own records.

More pictures


    Avila, S. P. 2000. Shallow-water marine molluscs of the Azores: biogeographical relationships. Arquipélago (Live and Marine Sciences) supplement 2, part A: 99-131.
    Avila, C., J. M. N. Azevedo, J. M. Gonçalves, J. Fontes, and F. Cardigos. 1998. Checklist of the shallow-water marine molluscs of the Azores: 1 – Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo. Açoreana 8 (4): 487-523.
    Baba, K. 1960. The genera Polycera, Palio, Greilada and Thecacera from Japan (Nudibranchia - Polyceridae). Publications of the Seto Marine Biological Laboratory 8(1):75-78, pl 6.
    Ballesteros, M. 1980. Contribución al conocimientos de los Sacoglosos y Nudibranquios (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia). Estudio anatómico, sistemático y faunístico de las especies del mediterráneo español. Tesis Doctoral.
    Ballesteros, M. 2007. Lista actualizada de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 2: 163–188.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2021. OPK - Opistobranquis. (https://opistobranquis.info/).
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira 6(2016): 1-28.
    Ballesteros, M., M. Pontes, and E. Madrenas. 2019. Els nudibranquis del mar català. Brau, Figueres.
    Bergh, L. S. R. 1894. Eine gattung von Polyceraden (Greilada). Archiv für Naturgeschichte, Berlin 60 (1): 1-6.
    Bielecki, S., G. Cavignaux, J. M. Crouzet, and S. Grall. 2011. Des limaces de rêve.
    Brown, G. H., and B. E. Picton. 1979. Nudibranchs of the British Isles — a colour guide. Underwater Conservation Society, Manchester, by R. Earll.
    Calado, G., V. Urgorri, R. Gaspar, and F. J. Cristobo. 1999. Catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios bentónicos de las costas de Setúbal-Espichel (Portugal). Nova Acta Científica Compostelana (Bioloxía) 9: 285-294.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R. 1986. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi del Mar Ligure. Lavori Societa Italiana di Malacologia 22:85-96.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and G. Barletta. 1984. Elenco preliminare dei molluschi opistobranchi viventi nel Mediterraneo (Sacoglossa, Pleurobranchomorpha, Acochlidiacea, Aplysiomorpha, Nudibranchia). Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 20(9-12):195-218.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and R. Chemello. 1987. Alcune considerazioni sui molluschi opistobranchi della Sicilia. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 23(5-8):207-222.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., and T. E. Thompson. 1989. Mediterranean opisthobranch molluscs: a zoogeographic approach. Bollettino Malacologico (Pubblicazione Mensile Edita dalla Societa Italiana di Malacologia) 25(5-8):183-204.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R., R. Chemello, and R. Giannuzzi-Savelli. 1990. Atlante dei nudibranchi del Mediterraneo. La Conchiglia, Rome 264 pp, 14 pls. (104 clr. ill), line drawings.
    Cervera, J. L., J. Templado, J. C. García-Gómez, M. Ballesteros, J. Ortea, F. J. García, J. Ros, and A. A. Luque. 1988. Catálogo actualizado y comentado de los Opistobranquios (Mollusca, Gastropoda) de la Península Ibérica, Baleares y Canarias, con algunas referencias a Ceuta y la isla de Alborán. Iberus, supl. 1: 1-84.
    Cervera, J. L., G. Calado, C. Gavaia, M. A. E. Malaquías, J. Templado, M. Ballesteros, J. C. García-Gómez, and C. Megina. 2004. An annotated and updated checklist of the opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Spain and Portugal (including islands and archipelagos). Boletín Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 20 (1-4): 1-111. L.
    Debelius, H., and R. H. Kuiter. 2007. Nudibranchs of the world. IKAN- Unterwasserarchiv, Frankfurt.
    Edmunds, M. 1961. Polycera elegans Bergh: a new species to Britain and discussion of its taxonomy. Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London 34(6):316-321.
    Edmunds, M. 1987. Color in opisthobranchs. American Malacological Bulletin 5(2):185-196.
    Edmunds, M. 1987. Color in opisthobranchs. Western Society of Malacologists Annual Report 19:24.
    Edmunds, M. 1968. Acid secretion in some species of Doridacea (Mollusca, Nudibranchia). Proceedings of the Malacological Society of London 38:121-133; tbls. 1-3; figs. 1-4.
    Fernández-Ovies, C. L. 1981. Contribución a la clasificación morfológica de las puestas de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Boletín de Ciencias de la Naturaleza del Instituto de Estudios Asturianos 28: 3-12.
    Flanders Marine Institute. 2018. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase: Territorial Seas. Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase. (http://www.marineregions.org/).
    Furfaro, G., F. Vitale, C. Licchelli, and P. Mariottini. 2020. Two Seas for One Great Diversity: Checklist of the Marine Heterobranchia (Mollusca; Gastropoda) from the Salento Peninsula (South-East Italy). Diversity. 12: 171.
    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.
    García-Gómez, J. C. 1987. Adiciones a la fauna de Opistobranquios del Estrecho de Gibraltar (sur de España), I. Iberus 7 (2): 197-209.
    García-Gómez, J. C. 2002. Paradigmas de una fauna insólita; Los moluscos opistobranquios del estrecho de Gibraltar (Serie Ciencias) 20: 397 pp. Instituto de Estudios Gibraltareños. Algeciras, Cádiz, Spain.
    García-Gómez, J. C., J. L. Cervera, F. J. García, and C. M. López de la Cuadra. 1989. Resultados de la Campaña Internacional de Biología Marina “Ceuta-86”: Moluscos Opistobranquios. Bollettino Malacologico 25: 223-232.
    Hayward, P. J., G. D. Wigham, and N. Yonow. 1990. Mollusca I: Polyplacophora, Scaphopoda, and Gastropoda; pp. 628-730, In: , The marine fauna of the British Isles and north-west Europe, volume 2, xvi + 996 pp. Oxford University Press.
    Hunnam, P., and G. Brown. 1975. Sublittoral nudibranch Mollusca (sea slugs) in Pembrokeshire waters. Field Studies 4(2):131-159.
    Just, H., and M. Edmuns. 1985. North atlantic nudibranchs (Mollusca) seen by Henning Lemche. Ophelia supplement 2: 1-150.
    Long, S. J. 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000. Bayside Books & Press, Tustin, CA, U.S.A. 672p.
    Malaquias, M. A. E. 2001. Updated and annotated checklist of the opisthobranch molluscs (excluding Thecosomata and Gymnosomata), from the Azores archipelago (North Atlantic Ocean, Portugal). Iberus 19 (1): 37-48.
    Marcus, E. G. 1955. Opisthobranchia from Brazil. Boletim da Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciencias e Letras, Universidade de Sao Paulo, Zoology, 207, 20:89-261, pls. 1-30.
    Marcus, E. d. B. R., and E. G. Marcus. 1963. Opisthobranchs from the Lesser Antilles. Studies on the Fauna of Curacao and other Caribbean Islands 19(79):1-76.
    McAndrew, R. 1861. List of the British marine invertebrate fauna. Report of the 30th Meeting of the  British Association for the Advancement of Science; Held at Oxford in June & July 1860, pp. 217-236.
    McDonald, G. 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia. 2nd Online Edition, Annotated. 1072 pp  Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz. (http://escholarship.org/uc/item/8115h0wz).
    Moro, L., J. L. Martín Esquivel, M. J. Garrido Sanahuja, and I. Izquierdo Zamora. 2003. Lista de especies marinas de Canarias (algas, hongos, plantas y animales). Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias.
    Nordsieck, F. 1972. Die europäischen Meeresschnecken : (Opisthobranchia mit Pyramidellidae, Rissoacea) : vom Eismeer bis Kapverdem, Mittelmeer und Schawarzes Meer. Gustav Fischer, Stuttgart.
    Ortea, J. 1976. Catálogo brevemente comentado de la fauna de moluscos marinos gasterópodos y bivalvos existentes en el estuario de Villaviciosa. Asturnatura 3: 111-120.
    Ortea, J. 1977a. Moluscos marinos gasterópodos y bivalvos del litoral asturiano entre Ribadesella y Ribadeo, con especial atención a la subclase de los opistobranquios. Tesis Doctoral.
    Ortea, J., and E. Rolán. 1989. Descripcion de una nueva especie del genero Polycera Cuvier, 1816  (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) del archipielago de Cabo Verde. Publicações Ocasionais da Sociedade  Portuguesa de Malacologia (14):23-28, 1 pl.
    Ortea, J., J. Espinosa, and Y. Camacho. 1999. Especies del género Polycera Cuvier, 1816 (Mollusca: Nudibranchia) recolectadas en la epifauna de algas rojas del Caribe de Costa Rica y Cuba. Avicennia 10-11: 157-164.
    Ortea, J. A., L. Moro, J. J. Bacallado, J. M. Pérez Sánchez, and Y. Valles. 1996. Nuevos datos sobre la fauna de doridos farenobranquios (Gastropoda, Nudibranchia) de las Islas Canarias. Revista de la Academia Canaria de Ciencias 8 (2, 3 and 4): 125-138.
    Ortea, J. A., L. Moro, J. J. Bacallado, and R. Herrera. 2001. Catálogo actualizado de los Moluscos Opistobranquios de las Islas Canarias. Revista de la Academia Canaria de Ciencias 12 (3-4): 105-136.
    Picton, B. 1981. Collections of nudibranch Mollusca from the Republic of Ireland made during 1981. Report to the Praeger Committee, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 5 unnumbered pp.
    Picton, B. E., and C. Morrow. 1994. Greilada elegans accessed through: Nudibranchs of the British Isles on 2014-12-14. (http://www.habitas.org.uk/marinelife/species.asp?item=W13670#).

    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:

Herrero, Aketza, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2021) "Polycera elegans" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 20/09/2012. Accessed: 04/03/2021. Available at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/LwcGK)

To copy this cite click on the right button.