Berthella stellata

Berthella stellata (Risso, 1826)

Berthella stellata by Enric Madrenas

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 stellata (Risso, 1826) [Pleurobranchus]


  • Berthella albocrossata Heller & Thompson T., 1983 
  • Berthella postrema Burn, 1962
  • Berthella stellata albocrossata Heller & Thompson, 1983
  • Berthella tupala Er. Marcus, 1957
  • Pleurobranchus pellucidus Pease, 1860
  • Pleurobranchus stellatus Risso, 1826 (original)

This is a species that can reach up to 30 mm in length. In large specimens the mantle is very flat, with a rounded contour and that completely covers the foot. The main feature of this species is the whitish “Y” shaped spot on the back, that could be somewhat irregular. The coloration of this species is very variable but the most widespread large specimens usually show different shades of brown with small irregular whitish spots. Smaller specimens can be whitish, yellowish or reddish. This coloration is due to the many color spots embedded in the mantle. The Y-shaped stain can be absent in bigger specimens. The inner shell is not seen by transparency below the mantle. The cephalic veil is colored light brown, as are the rhinophores, gill and hiponotum, and the underside of the foot is whitish. The gill is bipinnate and has up to 19 slides to either side of the spine.

In the Catalan coast appears frequently at shallow depth (20-30 cm), under rocks with abundant colonial tunicates that can be its food. In the breeding season it is common to see groups of multiple specimens (up to 10-12 in Es Caials) copulating and laying eggs. The spawn is a gelatinous spiral ribbon of about two turns, with numerous little white eggs. This species also has glands in the foot that expel a very acidic secretion (pH 0-1) for defensive purposes.


  • 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.
  • Stellata. From Latin stellatus meaning starred”, “with a star”.

This Mediterranean species seems to have a circumtropical distribution.

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

References for the species: Berthella stellata

    Cantabria: Ortea (1977c, as B. plumula), Ávila Escartín (1993). Galicia: Fernández-Ovies (1981, as B. plumula). Portugal: García-Gómez et al. (1991), Calado et al. (1999, 2003). Andalucía (Atl.): Cervera and García-Gómez (1986), Cervera et al. (2000). Gibraltar: Cervera and García-Gómez (1986), García-Gómez (1987), García-Gómez et al. (1989), Cervera et al. (2000). Andalucía (Med.): García Raso et al. (1992), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a). Levante: Ballesteros et al. (1986), Templado (1982b), Marín and Ros (1987a), Templado et al. (2002). Catalunya: Domènech et al. (2002), Ballesteros (datos no publicados) [Es Caials, Cap Falcó de Roses], M@re Nostrum [La Foradada de Portbou 10/2001]. Baleares: Ros and Gili (1985, as B. cf. stellata), Ballesteros, Álvarez and Mateo (1986). Canarias: Malaquias and Calado (1997), Ortea et al. (2001), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Madeira: Malaquias (unpubl. data). Azores: Wirtz and Debelius (2003).

    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 stellata based on our own records.

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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Berthella stellata" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/05/2012, Accessed: 21/01/2018 at (

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