Limacia clavigera

Limacia clavigera (Müller, 1776)

Limacia clavigera 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: Polyceroidea  Alder & Hancock, 1845 
Family: Polyceridae  Alder & Hancock, 1845 
Subfamily: Polycerinae  Alder & Hancock, 1845 
Genus: Limacia  O.F. Müller, 1781 
Species: Limacia clavigera (O.F. Müller, 1776) [Doris]


  • Doris clavigera O. F. Müller, 1776 (original)
  • Euplocamus plumosus Thompson, 1840 
  • Tergipes pulcher Johnston, 1834 

This species of nudibranch reaches a size of up to 18 mm in length, however Mediterranean specimens are somewhat smaller, measuring about 10 mm. The body is coloured white because of small white opaque scores densely distributed throughout the body but in certain areas some internal organs can be seen by transparency. The most characteristic trait for this species are the fingerlike appendages surrounding the whole body, including the anterior margin of the head. These appendices are 18-30 in total, narrow and semitransparent at the base and go widening upwards, with a rounded, yellow or orange end. In some specimens, the smaller ones with a smaller number of tubercles, these have a more or less regular size, while in the bigger specimens the tubercles are usually of different sizes. These tubercles have a finely tuberculate or spiny surface and the tubular structure that runs inside and can be seen by transparency. In the back of the animal there are also yellow or orange pigmented rounded tubercles and sometimes they are aligned forming a dorsal ridge in the middle, and there may also be other tubercles at both sides. On the side walls of the body usually there are also orange or yellow aligned tubercles, somewhat smaller than the dorsal ones. Rhinophores are semitransparent the base and have from 10 to 11 lamellae on the tip, the first 3-4 lamellae are coloured white while the uppermost are coloured yellow or orange. Rhinophores are fully retractile and their base is surrounded by a sheath with a smooth whitish upper edge . The gill consists of 3 bi or tripinnate leaves, semitransparent at the base and the rachis, and the distal lamellae coloured yellow or orange; on small specimens, gill leaves can be completely white. The foot is white and rounded ahead, with no oral palps and the tail is pigmented with a medium yellow or orange wide dorsal band.

Limacia clavigera lives in dimly illuminated rocky walls with an abundance of sessile invertebrates, under rocks and on leaves of Posidonia oceanica with bryozoans. It has been cited for numerous species of bryozoans, some of which may be this species food, as Aetea truncata, Caberea boryi, Celleporina hassalli, Chorizopora brongniarti, Cryptosula pallasiana, Electra pilosa, Escharella immersa, Escharina vulgaris, Hippodiplosia spp., Pentapora foliacea, Membranipora membranacea, Microporella ciliata, Parasmittina raigii, Porella concinna, Savignella lafonti, Schismopora avicularis,, Schizomavella spp., Schizobrachiella sanguinea, Schizoporella unicornis, Smittina reticulata and Umbonula littoralis (McDonald & Nybakken, 1999). The spawn consists of a ribbon coiled in a flat spiral with several turns and white eggs (Gosliner 1987).


  • Limacia. From Latin word “limax”, slug, viscous.
  • Clavigera. From Latin “clava”, which means mace or club, and “gerere”, to bring, “to carry sticks, clubs or truncheons”.

It is a species found in all European coasts, from the British Isles to the Mediterranean. It has also been reported in Cape Verde (Rolan, 2005), South Africa (Gosliner, 1987), Azores, Canary Islands and in all shores of the Iberian Peninsula (Cervera et al. 2004). In Catalunya it has been observed in Cala Sant Antoni (Cadaqués), Es Caials, L’Escala, L’Estartit, Medes Islands, Sa Tuna, Cala Aiguablava, Cala Aiguafreda and Tossa de Mar.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Limacia clavigera
: 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 observation probability for Limacia clavigera based on our own records.

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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Limacia clavigera" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/05/2012, Accessed: 24/01/2018 at (

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