Pleurobranchus testudinarius

Pleurobranchus testudinarius (Cantraine, 1835)

Pleurobranchus testudinarius @ Caials 24-07-2015 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
Superfamily: Pleurobranchoidea   J.E. Gray, 1827
Family: Pleurobranchidae  J.E. Gray, 1827
Genus: Pleurobranchus  Cuvier, 1804
Species: Pleurobranchus testudinarius  Cantraine, 1835


  • Daudebardia tarentina de Stefani & Pantanelli, 1879
  • Pleurobranchus denotarisi Vérany, 1846
  • Pleurobranchus mammillatus Schultz in Philippi, 1836

This is a large species because it can reach more than 20 cm in length. The mantle is very domed and very broad, completely covering the foot. The color of the adult animal is orange-red or dark purple, but in the young speciments it is of a lighter shade. The mantle has conical protuberances that are larger in the center and whose bases are surrounded by thin purple lines. In the anterior part of the mantle there’s a slit hiding the insertion point of the rhinophores. The cephalic veil is underdeveloped. The gill is yellowish and has 18 to 30 lamellae on either side of the central shaft, its big size frequently makes it protrude from the mantle. The foot is yellowish and on its back zone there is a “pedia” gland.

Apparently it feeds on certain species of colonial tunicates although data suggest that it could be a scavenger too. Very little is known about the biology of this species. It is believed it has nocturnal habits, during the day hiding under rocks or inside caves.


  • Pleurobranchus. From Greek Pleuron, “side” + Bragchia, “gill”.
  • Testudinarius. From Latin testūdin- (root of testūdō) turtle, pertaining to or resembling a turtle or turtle shell.

Distribution predominantly Mediterranean, this species has also been recently cited for the Azores and the Canary Islands. In the Catalan coast has been observed in different locations on sandy bottoms from about 20 m depth, but also in underwater caves of the Costa Brava.

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

References for the species: Pleurobranchus testudinarius

    Andalucía (Atl.): Templado et al. (1993b). Andalucía (Med.): Moreno and Templado (1998), Schick (1998), Sánchez Tocino, Ocaña and García (2000a), Ocaña et al 2000), Peñas et al. (in press). Levante: Templado (1982b, as Susania). Catalunya: Ros (1975, 1978b, citada como Susania testudinaria), Domènech et al. (2006), M@re Nostrum [Gat de Norfeu (Roses)]. Baleares: Ros and Gili (1985), Ballesteros (1998) (both as Susania). Canarias: Ortea et al. (2001), Moro et al. (2003), Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Madeira: Wirtz (unpubl. data). Azores: Wirtz and Martins (1993), Wirtz (1992, 1998), Ávila et al. (1998), Ávila (2000), Malaquias (2001), 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 Pleurobranchus testudinarius based on our own records.

More pictures


    Bibliography based on the works by Steve Long, 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000 and Gary McDonald, 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia, with later updates from other resources.

Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes et al. (2012-2017) "Pleurobranchus testudinarius" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 15/05/2012, Accessed: 18/12/2017 at (

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