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cerata detail
 

underside
 

regenerating
 

food anemone
 

egg mass




 
Baeolidia scottjohnsoni
Carmona, Pola, Gosliner & Cervera, 2014
 
Baeolidia scottjohnsoni
Maximum size:  12 mm.

Identification:  Superficially, this species is similar to Baeolidia moebii. However, it can be distinguished from that species by the fine branches of the digestive gland in the tips of the cerata as well as the subterminal yellow and iridescent blue patches on the dorsal surfaces of the cerata.

Natural history:  Baeolidia scottjohnsoni is known from two animals found in Halimeda kanaloana beds at a depth of 6-12 m (20-38 ft). It feeds on the anemone Bunodeopsis medusoides. (Note 1) A small cream egg mass laid in a holding dish was similar in form to that of Baeolidia salaamica rather than that of B. major. It hatched in about four days.

Distribution:  Maui: widely distributed in the western & central Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  This species is listed on some sites as Berghia japonica or Baeolidia japonica. It was first recorded in Hawaii from Wahikuli, Maui by PF on Nov. 30, 2008.

Photo:  CP: 12 mm; found by PF; Wahikuli, Maui; Nov. 30, 2008.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  In Oct., 2010, a 9 mm animal was observed repeatedly feeding on Bunodeopsis medusoides in a holding dish over a period of several days. The anemones were collected in the same sample as the aeolid. Juvenile anemones (regurgitated, regenerating tentacles) were "captured" with the oral tentacles and sucked in like spaghetti. Larger animals were attacked from the base, after they released, with one or two bites taken per session. The mature anemones showed a strong aversive response (releasing and swimming) on contact with the aeolid. However, after attacking the mature anemones several times, the Baeolidia no longer showed interest in doing so and appeared stressed. This may have been due to other factors. But, I wonder if repeatedly attacked anemones might develop antifeedent chemicals in the manner of some plants under attack by insects?
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