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Aegires exeches
Fahey & Gosliner, 2004
 
Aegires exeches
Maximum size:  7 mm.

Identification:  This is a highly cryptic species elaborately decorated with elongate papillae that have spiculate tips. Its body is firm in texture and varies from cream to light brown with darker brown patches. It is spotted with blue and gold ocelli. (Note 1) Rarely, it may have maroon or orange patches.

Natural history:  Aegires exeches is a moderately common species found in moderately protected to exposed rocky habitats as well as Halimeda kanaloana beds at depths of < 1 to 18 m (< 3 to 59 ft). It lays a cream to pale green, spiral egg mass that hatches in about four days in the laboratory.

Distribution:  Maui, Kauai and French Frigate Shoals: widely distributed in the western & central Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  It was first recorded in Hawaii from Hekili Point, Maui by CP on May 22, 1991 and was formerly referred to as Aegires punctilucens.

Photo:  PF:  Feb., 1992.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  The blue and gold ocelli are virtually identical to those found in the sea hares Stylocheilus striatus and Stylocheilus(?) sp. #1. Since those species are known to concentrate toxins from the cyanobacteria they eat, perhaps Aegires exeches is mimicking their aposematic coloration?
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