Tambja ceutae

Tambja ceutae Garcia-Gomez & Ortea, 1988

Tambja ceutae by Sergio López González

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: Nembrothinae  Burn, 1967
Genus: Tambja  Burn, 1962
Species: Tambja ceutae  García-Gómez & Ortea, 1988

Average sized species, the specimens found usually measure about 20 mm and reach a maximum size of about 80 mm (Ortea et al., 1996). It has a limaciform shaped body and it is coloured blue-green, darker in the older specimens. The head is broad compared to the body and is provided with a series of prominences at the edge of the notum and other similar bumps on the sides behind the eye areas. On the back of the caudal region other similar bumps can be seen. The edge of the notum is crossed by a yellow band that is interrupted in the rear side; in the middle area of ​​the back there is another yellow band that runs along its length to the gill opening -which does not surround- and follows behind it to the tail. Two additional yellow lines flank the mid-dorsal stripe from the gills to the rhinophores, interrupted in the dark blue eye areas. Elongated yellow dots appear on the tail, which appear to be the fragmented continuation of the two yellow lines that run along the sides of the animal. It has short and dorsoventrally flattened oral tentacles, with the back coloured dark blue. The rhinophores are dark blue, have 20 dark blue lamellae and have a split apex. The rhinophoric sheath, which has a smooth, yellow rim, is raised above the surface of the notum and has a short yellow line separating it from the notum’s edge. The gill crown consists of five tripinnate and non-retractile leaves, which surround the anal papilla. The three anterior leaves are more developed than the two lateral ones and  have yellow coloured gill raquis, but a wedge of dark blue color on the tip. The inner border of the gills rachis is also yellow, and they converge around the anal papilla, where they delimit a blue stain. The foot is bordered with a yellow line near the margin. The genital orifice is on the right side, flanked by two yellow lines that run above and below it. All the yellow lines of the body (sometimes they can be of a greenish hue) appear surrounded of dark blue color. The mentioned bumps have a blue-green coloured apex and a conical shape, growing on the yellow lines. There is a specialised sensory organ characteristic to species of Tambja located on each side of the head between rhinophore and oral tentacle. This sensory organ is usually seen as a closed and almost unobservable horizontal slit, but with patience it can be seen in the open position, exposing the internal lamellae to the environment. These lamellae are in some respects analogous to the rhinophores’ lamellae, being connected to the same nerves, however just exactly what they are assessing and analysing is currently unknown. The literature has not even settled upon a accepted name for it, but scientific papers name this organ “sensory pit”, “pre-rhinophoral sensory organ”, “lappet” and “lateral slot”.

It lives in the shady areas of the rocky bottoms. Juvenile specimens live usually under stones. It is assumed that it feeds on briozoans of the genus Bugula, since it usually lays the spawn in the base of this bryozoan colony. The spawn is an orange ribbon wrapped helically, with orange eggs of about 93-107 microns in diameter, arranged irregularly, not forming layers or columns. Spawn has only been observed between December and March in the Canary Islands. It is supposed to be a prey to the nudibranch Tyrannodoris europaea, from which it escapes with swimming movements. The coloration is very variable, but it is very likely due to the presence of several similar species [crypsis] (Debelius & Kuiter, 2007). It is able to secrete “tambjamine”, a compound with cytotoxic and antimicrobial activity.


  • Ceutae. From the city of Ceuta (Spain)

Its current distribution includes the southern coast of the Iberian Peninsula (Ocaña et al., 2004), the north coast of Morocco (García Gómez & Ortea 1988 in Ceuta), Canary Islands (Caballer et al., 2001), Azores (Wirtz, 2006, 2014) and Madeira (Caballer et al., 2001). It has also been found in the waters of Ibiza, Balearic Islands (Cesare Fattori, 2014 pers. comm.).

Known georeferenced records of the species: Tambja ceutae
: 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 Tambja ceutae based on our own records.



More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas (2012-2018) "Tambja ceutae" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/10/2013, Accessed: 18/01/2018 at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/0AatK)

In order to copy this cite or text fragments you must be a registered user.