Ercolania coerulea

Ercolania coerulea (Trinchese, 1892)

Ercolania caerulea @ Porto Cesareo (Lecce), Northern Ionian Sea by Fabio Vitale

Class: Gastropoda  Cuvier, 1797
Subclass: Heterobranchia  J.E. Gray, 1840
Clade: Euthyneura  Spengel, 1881
Clade: Panpulmonata  Jörger et al., 2010
Clade: Sacoglossa  von Ihering, 1876
Superfamily: Limapontioidea  J.E. Gray, 1847
Family: Limapontiidae  J.E. Gray, 1847
Genus: Ercolania  Trinchese, 1872
Species: Ercolania coerulea  Trinchese, 1892


  • Ercolania costai Pruvot-Fol, 1951
  • Stiliger cricetus Er. Marcus & Ev. Marcus, 1970

The average size of this species is about 14 mm but, generally, the specimens found are smaller. The overall body color is whitish or yellowish and the digestive gland, seen by transparency, is olive-green. This gland extends under all of the dorsal surface and the inside of the cerata, giving the animal an olive appearance. An opaque white pigment appears in the apex of the rhinophores and the pericardium. There are often numerous opaque white spots on the dorsum of the cerata that at the apex form two diverging white lines, like letter “V”. The apex of the cerata is bright blue, detail that gives its name to this species. The rhinophores are elongated and smooth, greenish-white in the base and at its end. The back is covered with a large number of cerata on both sides of the animal that remain tight together; cerata shape differs from fusiform with a pointed apex, to inflated with a rounded apex, depending on the movement state of the animal. The anal papilla is elongated and it is positioned on the pericardium. The genital openings are located just behind the right rinophore. The tail is pointed.

Ercolania coerulea is usually found on the cladophoral algae Vallonia utricularis that, according to various authors, it feeds. on. Its small size, globe shaped cerata and color makes the animal almost unnoticeable on the algae. The spawn of this species is a flattened round cord with very small white eggs, about 60-70 microns in diameter. The depth distribution ranges from the intertidal zone to a depth of 20 meters.


  • Ercolania. Probably dedicated to Giovanni Batista Ercolani, Italian physicyst and founder of the veterinary sciences in his country.
  • Coerulea. From Latin “caeruleus”, of blue color.

This species of sacoglosan was originally cited in the Mediterranean (Gulf of Naples) and has been quoted all around the western Mediterranean and the Adriatic, in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Azores, in the western Atlantic (Florida and West Indies), off the coast of Tanzania (Indian Ocean), and there are quotes from Hong Kong and Japan that require confirmation. In the Iberian Peninsula is mentioned only in the east coast. In the Catalan coast it has been observed rarely in the Costa Brava.

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

References for the species: Ercolania coerulea

    Levante: Templado (1982b, 1983, 1984), Marín and Ros (1988). Catalunya: Ballesteros (datos no publicados) [Punta de La Creu de Roses], M@re Nostrum [Cala Aiguafreda 4/2005]. Canarias: Wirtz and Debelius (2003). Madeira: Wirtz (1995a). 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 Ercolania coerulea based on our own records.

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Further reading

Cite this article as:

Ballesteros, Manuel, Enric Madrenas, Miquel Pontes (2012-2018) "Ercolania coerulea" in OPK-Opistobranquis, Published: 14/05/2012, Accessed: 22/01/2018 at (

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