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young, about 3 mm

(Adams & Reeve, 1848)
Bornella stellifer
Maximum size:  29 mm.

Identification:  While this species is quite variable in color throughout its Indo-Pacific range, the few photographed Hawaiian animals share a unique pattern. The body is translucent white with brown reticulations and some opaque white as in other B. stellifer, but the Hawaiian animals also have opaque white markings on the dorsum that form an "x" on the head and another in front of the first pair of cerata, then less-pronounced "x"s between subsequent pairs. The rhinophoral stalks are long and bear long, pointed papillae.

Natural history:  This is a rare species on Maui. We've found one mature animal under rubble in a moderately exposed location at 11 m (36 ft). In addition, we've found a small juvenile at a moderately exposed rocky site at 2-6 m (5-20 ft).  However, Scott Johnson found about 20 animals over seven years of diving on the Big Island and Oahu, all on night dives at depths of 5-15 m (16-49 ft). They were under ledges at exposed to highly exposed rocky sites. (pers. com.) It feeds on hydroids (Bertsch & Johnson, 1981).

Distribution:  Big Island, Maui and Oahu: widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  This species is listed as Bornella adamsii in Bertsch and Johnson, 1981. Scott Johnson has expressed some reservations about whether the Hawaiian population is the same as the widespread Indo-Pacific species. (pers. com.) It was first recorded in Hawaii at Pupukea, Oahu by Scott Johnson on Sept 15, 1977. It's named for the star-like shape of the oral tentacles.

Photo:  Mike Severns: 29 mm: found by PF; off Makena, Maui; March 8, 1988.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  ( )
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