Tambja marbellensis

Tambja marbellensis  Schick & Cervera, 1998

Tambja marbellensis (juvenile) @ Albufeira, Portugal may 2016 by Stefan Verheyen

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 marbellensis  Schick & Cervera, 1998

Taxonomic note: In the molecular analysis performed by Pola et al. (2014) Tambja marbellensis forms a very well supported clade that includes T. fantasmalis, T. crioula and T. simplex, with T. marbellensis as a sister species of the rest.

Limaciform shaped body up to 45 mm in length (Pola et al., 2014) with a widened head. The color of the adult specimens is grayish-blue (or greenish) very dark, almost black, although the juveniles are colored light green. It has a yellow dorsal longitudinal band that begins between the rhinophores and reaches the gill crown on the back, following a dorsal median crest (L. Sánchez-Tocino, 2016). Behind each rhinophore begins a yellow stripe that ends in the gills, only visible in the adult specimens. Two other yellow stripes are born ahead of ​​the gills and run parallel to the edge of the notum, ending in the post-gill area. The animal’s back is smooth, with some scattered spicules, and has a smooth, yellow border with a darker central line. The dorsum, the sides of the body and the pointed tail have a series of yellow stripes of different length, which increase in number and complication with the age of the animal but which share the design of the darker central line. In adult specimens rhinophores and gills are dark, almost black, whereas in juvenile specimens these organs are dark blue (L. Sánchez-Tocino, 2016). The foot has in its anterior part a series of small and rounded oral glands, and is bordered by a yellow band that joins with the edge of the mantle with a line of the same color that reaches to the tail, which protrudes the notum . The rhinophores are retractile, lamellated (with about 25 lamellas each) and have a conical shaped apex. Around the base there are smooth rhinophoric sheaths, colored dark blue with a yellow border. It has two short and dorsoventrally flattened oral tentacles. Among the rhinophores and oral tentacles, on each side of the body, there are lamellar structures, also present in other species of the genus (Yonow 1994; Pola et al., 2005; Pola et al., 2006). The gills are made of 5 dark blue tripinnate leaves that have the yellow rachis outside, are not retractable and are located at the back of the notum, surrounding the anal papilla. The three most central gill leaves are more developed than the lateral ones.

It lives in rocky bottoms, the juveniles are found below stones, on bryozoans Sessibugula barrosoi of which they probably feed, at least during its juvenile stage. The specimens have been observed between 3 and 20 meters deep and it is considered a rare species. Due to its characteristics, habitat and distribution it may be confused with the species Tambja ceutae, but Tambja marbellensis lacks the characteristic conical papillae that border the mantle and tail of T. ceutae and has a brown streak in the middle of all of the body yellow lines, a trait absent in T. ceutae. In addition, T. ceutae has the inner rachis of the gill colored in yellow, as well as two large dark gray spots located behind the rhinophores.


  • Marbellensis. Refers to Marbella, the type locality of this species.

Tambja marbellensis has been cited several times from southern Spain since its original description (Schick & Cervera 1998; Schick 1998; Ocaña et al. 2000, 2004; Sánchez-Tocino et al. 2000; García-Gómez 2002) and also from Portugal (Malaquias & Morenito 2000; Calado and Silva, 2012; Pola et al. 2014).

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

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas (2012-2018) "Tambja marbellensis" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/10/2013, Accessed: 18/01/2018 at (https://opistobranquis.info/en/Qv7eJ)

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