Berthella africana

Berthella africana (Pruvot-Fol, 1953)

Berthella africana @ Taliarte, Gran Canaria 25-07-2014 by José Juan Calderín Peñate

Class: Gastropoda Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura Spengel, 1881
Superorder: Nudipleura Wägele & Willan, 2000
Order: Pleurobranchomorpha Schmekel, 1985
Superfamily: Pleurobranchoidea J.E. Gray, 1827
Family: Pleurobranchidae J.E. Gray, 1827
Genus: Berthella de Blainville, 1824
Species: Berthella africana (Pruvot-Fol, 1953) [Berthellina]


  • Berthella canariensis Cervera, Gosliner, García-Gómez & Ortea, 2000
  • Berthellina africana Pruvot-Fol, 1953

According to Ortea at al. (2012), the description of Berthella canariensis Cervera, Gosliner, García-Gómez and Ortea, 2009, made from a single specimen found in Gran Canaria, did not take into account the unique color variability of Berthella africana related to the age of the specimen , so nowadays B. canariensis  is considered a synonym of B. africana.

The body can reach a length of 42mm, although its usual size is about 25mm. The mantle, which has no spicules, is smooth and completely covers the foot of the animal, but for its rear end. The body color varies from light beige to gray or brown, with darker spots scattered all over the dorsum. If observed with a microscope the dark spots are formed by more or less dense red spots, arranged in small circles around the small tubercles protruding on the skin. In some specimens there is a series of opaque white spots on the dorsum, but in much smaller numbers than the dark spots. It has a characteristic black spot in the center of the mantle. The inner shell is small and located towards the back of the animal, although it is missing in some specimens. The rhinophores are tubular and they are joined at their base. The oral veil is smooth, striated on the lateral edges, and can be observed ahead of the mantle. The foot, whitish and translucent in some specimens, is bilabiated anteriorly. The genital openings, described as a round hole and a slit, are located on the right side of the animal, on a small nipple, at the base of the gill, always protected by an outer fold (flap) that varies according to the size and maturity of the animal. The bipinnated gill is not usually seen in live animals, as it is covered by the mantle, but it is not very big and has a smooth rachis in smaller animals while in the adult specimens the rachis has a series of tubercles alternately arranged in two rows. The pedal gland is not observed on the rear end of the foot.

It usually lives in shallow water, as it has been always found from the intertidal down to 14 meters depth.


  • Berthella. Probably dedicated to Sabin Berthelot (1794-1880), a French naturalyst who enrolled the Navy and participated in the Napoleonic wars. He lived part of his life at the Canary islands, in his post as French consul in Tenerife. He wrote the “Historia Natural de Canarias” and directed the Botanical Garden of Puerto de la Cruz.
  • Africana. From Africa, the continent where it was first found.

Berthella africana is distributed along the Atlantic coast of Morocco (type locality: Temara) and the Canary Islands, where it is considered rare, with some findings in the Bay of Gando, in Taliarte and the Playa del Cabrón (in Gran Canaria ), also in Igueste de San Andres, Las Eras and Punta del Hidalgo (Tenerife).

Known georeferenced records of the species: Berthella africana
: 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 Berthella africana based on our own records.

More pictures


Further reading

Cite this article as:

Pontes, Miquel, Manuel Ballesteros, Enric Madrenas et al. (2012-2017) "Berthella africana" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 20/09/2016, Accessed: 18/12/2017 at (

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