Berthella plumula

Berthella plumula (Montagu, 1803)

Berthella plumula (Portugal) by João Pedro Silva

Class: Gastropoda Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura Spengel, 1881
Clade: Nudipleura Wägele & Willan, 2000
Subclade: Pleurobranchomorpha Schmekel, 1985 (formerly NOTASPIDEA)
Superfamily: Pleurobranchoidea J.E. Gray, 1827
Family: Pleurobranchidae J.E. Gray, 1827
Genus: Berthella de Blainville, 1824
Species: Berthella plumula (Montagu, 1803) [Bulla]


  • Berthella porosa de Blainville, 1824
  • Bulla plumula Montagu, 1803 (original)
  • Cleanthus montagui Leach, 1852
  • Lamellaria kleciachi Brusina, 1866
  • Pleurobranchus brevifrons Philippi, 1844
  • Pleurobranchus fleuriausi d’Orbigny, 1837
  • Pleurobranchus perforatus Philippi, 1844
  • Pleurobranchus plumula (Montagu)
  • Sigaretus stomatellus Risso, 1826

This species can grow up to 35 mm. The overall body color is whitish or pale, but orange animals are not rare. Light brown viscera can be seen, by transparency, in the center of the dorsum. The mantle is quite flat and is characterized by having a lattice pattern consisting of differently shaped small depressions, that provide the dorsum a porous appearance. With a binocular microscope, numerous star like spicules can be seen under the mantle epidermis. The inner shell can also be observed in the central area of the mantle. The head veil, the rhinophores, the branquia and foot are whitish or yellowish. The gill is free for about 1/3 of its total length and has about 20 lamellae on either side of the central shaft.

It is an sporadical finding, usually under stones or associated to shallow Posidonia oceanica rhizomes. The foot of this species has glands that produce acidic defensive secretions. Little is known about the biology of this species, which could feed on sponges and colonial tunicates.


  • 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. The abbreviation “Berth” is used to indicate Sabin Berthelot as an authority in the scientific botanical description and classification. He wrote the “Historia Natural de Canarias” and directed the Botanical Garden of Puerto de la Cruz.
  • Plumula. Latin origin, the aftershaft of a feather. The first bud, or gemmule, of a young plant; the bud, or growing point, of the embryo, above the cotyledons.

This species inhabits all European coasts, both Atlantic and Mediterranean, and in the Iberian Peninsula it has been collected all along its coastline. In the Catalan coast is a rare species.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Berthella plumula
: GROC 2010-2011
: Enric Madrenas
: João Pedro Silva
: Bernard Picton
: Manuel Ballesteros.
: M@re Nostrum
: Altres fonts
: Marine Regions

References for the species: Berthella plumula

    Cantabria: Hidalgo (1917, as Pleurobranchus), Ortea (1977c, as Susania testudinaria), Ávila Escartín (1993). Galicia: Urgorri and Besteiro (1983), Rolán (1983). Portugal: De Oliveira (1895, as Pleurobranchus plumula), Nobre (1932), García-Gómez et al. (1991), Calado et al. (1999, 2003). Andalucía (Atl.): Cervera and García-Gómez (1986), Cervera et al. (2000). Andalucía (Med.): Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984), Ballesteros et al. (1986), Marín and Ros (1987), García Raso et al. (1992). Catalunya: Domènech et al. (2002), Ballesteros (datos no publicados) [Es Caials]. Baleares: Hidalgo (1917, as Pleurobranchus). Canarias: Ortea et al. (2001). Madeira: Watson (1897, as Pleurobranchus plumula), Nobre (1937). Azores: Bergh (1892, 1899, both as Pleurobranchus plumula), Malaquias (2001).

    Sources: Cervera et al., 2004, Ballesteros, 2007 & 2016, McDonald, 2006 and other sources.


    Western Mediterranean:
    Eastern Mediterranean:
    Atlantic Ocean:
This chart displays the observation probability for Berthella plumula based on our own records.

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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Berthella plumula" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/05/2012, Accessed: 22/01/2018 at (

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