Polycera elegans

Polycera elegans (Bergh, 1984)

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

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: Polycera  Cuvier, 1817
Species: Polycera elegans (Bergh, 1984) [Greilada]


  • 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:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Polycera elegans based on our own records.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Herrero, Aketza, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Polycera elegans" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 20/09/2012, Accessed: 19/01/2018 at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/LwcGK)

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