Umbraculum umbraculum

Umbraculum umbraculum (Lightfoot, 1786)

Umbraculum umbraculum @ L'Escala by Enric Madrenas




































Umbraculum umbraculum  ([Lightfoot], 1786)

 Classification according to Bouchet et al. (2017)
Taxonomic source: World Register of Marine Species (AphiaID: 141879).

  • Parmophorus patelloide Cantraine, 1835
  • Patella ombracula Blainville, 1819
  • Patella sinica Gmelin, 1791
  • Patella umbraculum Lightfoot, 1786 (original)
  • Patella umbrellata Delle Chiaje, 1830
  • Umbraculum bermudense (Mörch, 1875)
  • Umbraculum botanicum Hedley, 1923
  • Umbraculum chinense Schumacher, 1817
  • Umbraculum indicum (Lamarck, 1819)
  • Umbraculum mediterraneum (Lamarck, 1819)
  • Umbraculum ovalis (Carpenter, 1856)
  • Umbraculum plicatulum (Martens, 1881)
  • Umbraculum pulchrum Lin, 1981
  • Umbraculum sinicum (Gmelin, 1791)
  • Umbrella indica Lamarck, 1819
  • Umbrella lamarckiana Récluz, 1843
  • Umbrella mediterranea Lamarck, 1819

This species is large because the adult specimens can measure up to 20 cm in length. The body is much larger than the shell, especially the foot that protrudes along the entire shell circumference. The patelliform type shell is fairly flat, with a slightly protruding apex at the center; it has a yellowish periostracum and is often covered with algae and other fouling organisms. Beneath the shell a poorly developed mantle can be seen, with the edge decorated with small conical papillae. The foot is coloured brown or orange and it is highly developed; on its dorsal side there are many large rounded tubers of different sizes and coloured in lighter shades than the body. The front side of the foot has a deep vertical slit that in the upper end holds a pair of coiled rhinophores. In the front groove and below the rhinophores the animal’s penis can be observed as a fleshy protuberance. No pedal gland is found under the foot. The gill spans along most of the right side of the body, between the mantle and the dorsal area of ​​the foot; it has 20-25 lamellae on both sides of the rachis, which is connected to the body along its whole length but the rear end, which is free. The anus is behind the gill.

A complete anatomic study of this species can be found in the Ph.D. thesis of Gaston Moquin-Tandon entitled “Recherhes anatomiques south l’ombrelle de la Mediterranee” published in 1870.

This species is usually found in different habitats and sea bottom types, like photophilic rocky bottoms, under rocks, in caves, coralligenous rocky walls and also on sandy and muddy bottoms from the intertidal zone down to 80 m depth. It feeds on different species of sponges like Tethya citrina, Jaspis johnstoni, Alectona millari, Agelas sp., Aaptos aaptos and Spiratrella cunctatrix (Cattaneo-Vietti, 1986). According to Thompson (1970) the spawn is a very pale pink, orange or grey folded and tightly wound ribbon with egg capsules of 400 microns containing up to 45 eggs each. These are about 90 microns in diameter, and a single spawn could contain from 100,000 to more than 4 million eggs. Animals, and their spawn, smell like mold when removed from water. Animals of this species have no acidic substances secretory glands in the foot as many other species of Pleurobranchomorpha, but they have skin glands that secrete certain substances called “umbraculamines”, which have been found to be icthyotoxic and therefore could have an anti-predator mission (Avila, 1993).


  • Umbraculum. From Latin “umbraculum”, parasol, umbrella, protection from Sun, shelter, shade.

This is a widely distributed species as it has been cited by many authors in almost all temperate and tropical seas, as in the shores of Florida (USA), Gulf of Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Caribbean coast of Colombia, Brazil, Cape Verde, the Mediterranean, South Africa, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Mauritius, Australia, New Zealand and in other parts of the Indo-Pacific. In the European continental coasts it has been cited in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters, also in the Canary Islands, Madeira and Azores. In the Iberian Peninsula it has been reported from the Portuguese shores up to Catalonia, also in the Balearic islands (Cervera et al. 2004). In the Catalan shores there are records of this species in Llançà, Es Caials, Cadaqués, Sa Tuna, Medes Islands, Tossa de Mar, in the trawling ground “Les garotes” (Lloret de Mar), Blanes, Vilassar de Mar, port of Vallcarca, Sitges and Cubelles.

Known georeferenced records of the species: Umbraculum umbraculum
: 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 monthly observation probability for Umbraculum umbraculum based on our own records.



More pictures


    Avila, S. P. 2000. Shallow-water marine molluscs of the Azores: biogeographical relationships. Arquipélago (Live and Marine Sciences) supplement 2, part A: 99-131.
    Avila, C. 1993. Sustancias naturales de moluscos opistobranquios: Estudio de su estructura, origen y función en ecosistemas bentónicos. Tesis Doctoral. Universitat de Barcelona.
    Avila, C., J. M. N. Azevedo, J. M. Gonçalves, J. Fontes, and F. Cardigos. 1998. Checklist of the shallow-water marine molluscs of the Azores: 1 – Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo. Açoreana 8 (4): 487-523.
    Bacallado, J. J., J. Ortea, L. Moro, F. J. Martín Barrios, T. Cruz Simó, and R. Mesa Hernández. 2008. Inventario de los moluscos de la marina de Arrecife, Lanzarote. Canarias Conservación. 1–32.
    Ballesteros, E. 1998. Addicions a la fauna d’invertebrats bentònics marins de l’Archipèlag de Cabrera (Illes Balears, Mediterrània Occidental). Bolletí de la Societat d’Historia Natural de Balears 41: 41-48.
    Ballesteros, M. 2007. Lista actualizada de los opistobranquios (Mollusca: Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 2: 163–188.
    Ballesteros, M., M. Pontes, and E. Madrenas. 2015. Opisthobranch from Medes Islands (Marine Protected Area, Costa Brava, Catalonia, NE Spain): 40 years of study.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2016. Actualización del catálogo de los moluscos opistobranquios (Gastropoda: Heterobranchia) de las costas catalanas. Spira. 6: 1–28.
    Ballesteros, M., E. Madrenas, and M. Pontes. 2023. OPK - Opistobranquis. (
    Bielecki, S., G. Cavignaux, J. M. Crouzet, and S. Grall. 2011. Des limaces de rêve.
    Caballer, M., J. Ortea, N. Rivero, G. Carias-Tucker, M. A. E. Malaquías, and S. Narciso. 2015. The opisthobranch gastropods (Mollusca: Heterobranchia) from Venezuela: an annotated and illustrated inventory of species. Zootaxa 4034 (2): 201–256.
    Camacho-Garcia, Y., T. Gosliner, and A. Valdes. 2005. Guía de Campo de las babosas marinas del Pacífico Este tropical. California Academy of Sciences, S.l.
    Canessa, M., G. Bavestrello, R. Cattaneo-Vietti, G. Furfaro, M. Doneddu, A. Navone, and E. Trainito. 2021. Rocky substrate affects benthic heterobranch assemblages and prey/predator relationships. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science 38: 539-558. 261: 1–13.
    Carus, J. V. 1889. Prodromus Faunae Mediterraneae sive descriptio animalium Maris Mediterranei incolarum quam comparata silva rerum quatenus innotuit adiectis locis et nominibus vulgaribus eorumque auctoribus in commondom Zoologorum, vol II. Brachiostomata, Mollusca, Tunicata, Vertebrata, ix + 854 pp.
    Cattaneo-Vietti, R. 1986. On Pleurobranchomorpha from Italian seas (Mollusca: Opisthobranchia). The Veliger 28 (3): 302-309.
    Cervera, J. L., G. Calado, C. Gavaia, M. A. E. Malaquías, J. Templado, M. Ballesteros, J. C. García-Gómez, and C. Megina. 2004. An annotated and updated checklist of the opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Spain and Portugal (including islands and archipelagos). Boletín Instituto Español de Oceanografía, 20 (1-4): 1-111. L.
    Cimino, G. A., A. Spinella, A. Scopa, and G. Sodano. 1989. Umbraculumin b an unusual 3 hydroxybutyric acid ester from the opisthobranch mollusc Umbraculum mediterraneum Tetrahedron Letters 30(9):1147-1148.
    Cimino, G. A., A. Crispino, A. Spinella, and G. Sodano. 1988. Two ichthyotoxic diacylglycerols from the Opisthobranch Mollusc Umbraculum mediterraneum Tetrahedron Lett. 29(29):3613-3616.
    Crocetta, F., H. Zibrowius, G. Bitar, J. Templado, and M. Oliveiro. 2013. Biogeographical homogeneity in the eastern Mediterranean Sea - I: the opisthobranchs (Mollusca: Gastropoda) from Lebanon. Mediterranean Marine Science, Vol 14, no.2.
    Crocetta, F., G. Bitar, H. Zibrowius, and M. Oliverio. 2020. Increase in knowledge of the marine gastropod fauna of Lebanon since the 19th century. Bulletin of Marine Science. 96: 1–22.
    Dacosta, J. M., M. Pontes, A. Ollé i Callau, and L. Aguilar. 2009. Seguiment de mol·luscs opistobranquis a la platja des Caials (Cadaqués, Alt Empordà). Contribució al catàleg del Parc Natural de Cap de Creus. Annals de l’Institut d’Estudis Empordanesos. 40: 107–130.
    Domènech, A., C. Ávila, and M. Ballesteros. 2006. Opisthobranch molluscs from the subtidal trawling grounds off Blanes (Girona, north-east Spain). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of U.K. 86: 383–389.
    Domínguez, M., A. Fontán, J. Rivera, and M. Ramón. 2013. Informe proyecto DRAGONSAL. Caracterización del ecosistema bentónico de la plataforma costera del área comprendida entre Sa Dragonera, Cabrera y el Cap de Ses Salines (Mallorca). Instituto Español de Oceanografía.
    Frank, B. et al. 1998. Umbraculum umbraculum accessed through: on 2014-12-14. (
    Furfaro, G., F. Vitale, C. Licchelli, and P. Mariottini. 2020. Two Seas for One Great Diversity: Checklist of the Marine Heterobranchia (Mollusca; Gastropoda) from the Salento Peninsula (South-East Italy). Diversity. 12: 171.
    García-Gómez, J. C., J. L. Cervera, F. J. García, J. A. Ortea, S. F. García-Martin, A. Medina, and L. P. Burnay. 1991. Resultados de la campaña internacional de biología marina “Algarve 88”: moluscos opistobranquios. Bollettino Malacologico 27 (5-9): 125-138.
    Giribet, G., and A. Peñas. 1997. Fauna malacológica del litoral del Garraf (NE de la Península Ibérica). Iberus 15 (1): 41-93.
    Göbbeler, K., and A. Klussmann Kolb. 2010. Out of Antarctica?-New insights into the phylogeny and biogeography of the Pleurobranchomorpha (Mollusca, Gastropoda). Molecular  Phylogenetics & Evolution. 55: 996–1007.
    Göbbeler, K., and A. Klussmann Kolb. 2010. The phylogeny of the Acteonoidea (Gastropoda): molecular systematics and first detailed morphological study of Rictaxis punctocaelatus (Carpenter, 1864). Journal  of Molluscan Studies. 76: 303–316.
    Göthel, H. 1994. Fauna marina del Mediterráneo. Ediciones Omega, Barcelona.
    Grande, C., J. Templado, J. L. Cervera, and R. Zardoya. 2003. Molecular phylogeny of Euthyneura (Mollusca: Gastropoda). Molecular Biology and Evolution 21 (2): 303-313. 21: 303–313.
    Hartley, T. W. 1964. Egg laying and early development of Umbraculum sinicum Gmelin. J Mal Soc Austr (8): 33-35.
    Hidalgo, J. C. 1917. Fauna malacológica de España, Portugal y las Baleares. Trabajos del Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales. Serie Zoología (Madrid) 30: 752 pp.
    Lightfoot, J. 1786. Catalogue of the Portland Museum.
    Long, S. J. 2006. Bibliography of Opisthobranchia 1554-2000. Bayside Books & Press, Tustin, CA, U.S.A. 672p.
    Luque, A. A. 1983. Contribución al conocimiento de los gasterópodos marinos de las costas de Málaga y Granada I. Opistobranquios (1). Iberus 3: 51-74.
    Luque, A. A. 1986. Contribución al conocimiento de los gasterópodos marinos de las costas de Málaga y Granada. Tesis Doctoral. Universidad Complutense de Madrid.
    Luque, A. A. 1983. Contribución al conocimiento de los gasterópodos marinos de las costas de Málaga y Granada. Iberus 3: 51-74.
    Malaquias, M. A. E. 2001. Updated and annotated checklist of the opisthobranch molluscs (excluding Thecosomata and Gymnosomata), from the Azores archipelago (North Atlantic Ocean, Portugal). Iberus 19 (1): 37-48.
    Malaquias, M. A. E., J. L. Cervera, and P. J. López-González. 2001. The Opisthobranch Molluscs from Porto Santo Island (Madeira Archipelago, Northeastern Atlantic Ocean). Iberus 19 (1): 75-82.
    McDonald, G. 2009. Bibliographia Nudibranchia. 2nd Online Edition, Annotated. 1072 pp  Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California, Santa Cruz. (
    Menezes, G. 1991. Umbraculum mediterraneum (Lamarck, 1819) (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia: Umbraculomorpha), a new record for the littoral fauna of the Azores. Arquipélago (Life and Marine Sciences) 9: 101-102.
    Moquin-Tandon, G. 1870. Recherches anatomiques sur l’ombrelle de la Méditerranée.
    Moro, L., J. J. Bacallado, and J. A. Ortea. 2010. Babosas marinas de las islas Canarias. Actas VI Semana Científica Telesforo Bravo, Instituto de Estudios Hispánicos de Canarias.
    Moro, L., J. L. Martín Esquivel, M. J. Garrido Sanahuja, and I. Izquierdo Zamora. 2003. Lista de especies marinas de Canarias (algas, hongos, plantas y animales). Consejería de Política Territorial y Medio Ambiente del Gobierno de Canarias.
    Nobre, A. 1895. Sur la faune malacologique des îles de S Thomé et de Madère (suite et fin). Annais de Sciencias Naturais 2: 97-98.
    Nobre, A. 1937. Fauna marinha de Portugal. 1° Aditamento. Mem Mus. zool. Univ. Coimbra, (1)99: 1-30.
    Nobre, A. 1931. Moluscos marinhos de Portugal. Instituto de Zoologia da Universidade do Porto.
    Ocaña Martín, A., L. Sánchez Tocino, S. López González, and F. Viciana Martín. 2000. Guía submarina de invertebrados no artrópodos. Comares, Granada.
    Odhner, N. H. 1931. Beitrage zur Malakozoologie der Kanarischen Inseln. Lamellibranchien, Cephalopoden, Gastropoden. Arkiv för Zoologi, Stokholm 23A (14): 1-116 [aprile].

    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, M., Madrenas, E. & Pontes, M. (2023) "Umbraculum umbraculum" in OPK-Opistobranquis. Published: 14/05/2012. Accessed: 27/02/2024. Available at (

To copy this cite click on the right button.