Felimare orsinii

Felimare orsinii (Vérany, 1846)

by Enric Madrenas

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Clade: Nudipleura  Wägele & Willan, 2000
Order: Nudibranchia  Cuvier, 1817
Suborder: Euctenidiacea  Tardy, 1970
Infraorder: Doridacea  Thiele, 1931
Superfamily: Doridoidea  Rafinesque, 1815
Family: Chromodorididae  Bergh, 1891
Genus: Felimare  Ev. Marcus & Er. Marcus 1967
Species: Felimare orsinii (Vérany, 1846) [Doris]

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 orsinii (Vérany, 1846)
  • Doris orsinii Vérany, 1846 (original)
  • Glossodoris coelestis (Deshayes in Fredol, 1865)
  • Glossodoris orsinii (Vérany, 1846)
  • Goniodoris coelestis Deshayes in Fredol, 1865
  • Hypselodoris coelestis (Deshayes in Fredol, 1865)
  • Hypselodoris orsinii (Vérany, 1846)

This is the smallest European species of the genus Felimare because the largest specimens barely reach 15 mm in length. It is also the most uniform colored: dark blue body with a single mid-dorsal white line running from the front of the branchial sheath to the rhinophores. The dorsum edge has a submarginal yellow line that, on the front and tail zones, can be whitish. The entire dorsum is dotted with small conical tubercles barely observable on naked eye. The rhinophores are relatively short, with few lamellae (9-10) and coloured dark blue as the body. The rhinophoric sheath is slightly elevated, with a smooth top edge. The gill has 6-8 small branchial leaves and is coloured dark blue. There is also a whitish or bluish white line crossing the side walls of the body and running on the back of the tail, forming a short groove. The mouth has a pair of short buccal palps. This species only has mantle glands (MDF) in the posterior margin of the dorsum, right behind the gill.

This small chromodorididae species prefers dark walls, living on or near sponges like Cacospongia mollior and C. scalaris, Dysidea fragilis, Ircinia fasciculata and Petrosia spp. This species has defensive mission secondary metabolites stored in the mantle dermal formations (MDF); these compounds are chemically derived from scalaradial, that the animal gets from the Cacospongia sponge it feeds on. It’s relatively easy to spot several individuals feeding and mating together on the same dark coloured sponge. The spawn is usually laid on the same sponge and has a thin cord wound in a one turn spiral of 8-10 mm in diameter. There are very few eggs (12-24) in each spawn, they are whitish and quite large (350 micron). Embryonic development is direct and uniform blue coloured juveniles hatch from egg capsules (Ortea, Valdés & García-Gómez, 1996).


  • Orsinii, the author did not document the dedication of the specific name of this animal, but Orsini was one of the most important noble families in Italy during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Traditionally one of the oldest, most famous and for centuries the most powerful of all the Italian royal families. Formerly possessed large estates in Hungary. The most notable members of this family were the popes Celestine III (1191-1198), Nicholas III (1277-1280) and Benedict XIII (1724-1730). Also produced many important political and religious figures.

This is an eminently Mediterranean species that has also been cited in the Cantabrian coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the Strait of Gibraltar. Also found in the Balearic islands. On the coasts of Catalonia it has been cited in many locations of the Costa Brava, Medes islands, Formigues islands, Canet de Mar, Mataró and Port de l’Estany (Tarragona).

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

References for the species: Felimare orsinii

    Cantabria: Ros (1975, 1978b, as Glossodoris tricolor), Ávila Escartín (1993). Gibraltar: García-Gómez (1983, as H. coelestis), García-Gómez et al. (1989, as H. coelestis), García-Gómez, Medina and Coveñas (1991, as H. coelestis), Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996), Gosliner and Johnson (1999). Andalucía (Med.): Ortea, Valdés and García-Gómez (1996), Ocaña et al. (2000), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Templado, Talavera and Murillo (1983, as H. coelestis), Templado et al. (2002), Ballesteros (1985, as H. coelestis), Ballesteros et al. (1986, as H. coelestis). Catalunya: Ros (1975, 1978b), Ros & Altimira (1977), Ballesteros (1980, 1985), Altimira et al. (1981), Pereira (1981), Pereira & Ballesteros (1982), Ávila (1993), Ortea et al. (1996c), M@re Nostrum [Ullastres (Llafranc) 7/2005, Furió Fitor (Begur) 7/1998 y Cala Aiguafreda (Begur) 5/1999]. Los registros de esta especie hasta 1996 se refieren a Glossodoris coelestis o a H. coelestis. Baleares: Ballesteros, Álvarez and Mateo (1986, as H. coelestis), Gosliner and Johnson (1999), Wirtz and Debelius (2003).

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


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Felimare orsinii based on our own records.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Felimare orsinii" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 16/05/2012, Accessed: 23/01/2018 at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/Ac5W0)

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