Cerberilla cf. albopunctata Baba, 1976
|Maximum size: 15 mm.
animal with long cephalic tentacles and a
broad foot. The cerata are stained with brown and have narrow yellow
medial bands. The head has darker brown bands and a patch of yellow
between the cephalic tentacles. (Note 1) Older animals may develop extensive dark pigment with the patchy absence of that pigment defining clear spots. (see photo).
Cerberilla spp, Cerberilla cf. albopunctata is a nocturnal
feeder. We've observed it on a number of occasions foraging at night in
holding dishes with its cephalic tentacles extended to the side. It
buried itself in sand in the bottom of the dishes during the day. We
also seen it actively crawling in the field at night. Based on the
number of animals seen, it's a moderately rare species that can be
found in protected, back-reef sand patches at depths of about 1 m (3
ft) as well as in Halimeda kanaloana
beds at depths of 6-11 m (20-36 ft). However, it's probably under
counted in our samples due to its burrowing habits. We've observed it
feeding on an anemone while held. (Note 2) It
lays a white, corkscrew-shaped egg mass that is anchored in sand. The
eggs hatch in about five days in the laboratory.
Big Island and Maui: may also be known from French Polynesia.
Taxonomic notes: It was first
from Wahikuli Park, Maui by CP on July 15,
1996. The ontogeny of this species appears to match that of Cerberilla albopunctata
from the Western Pacific but DNA will be needed for confirmation.
Hekili Point, Maui; Nov. 19, 2002.
Observations and comments:
1: The yellow pigment on the head and cerata shows strong green fluoresces under UV light. (see photo)
Since this is a nocturnal
species, the florescence might contribute to its pattern of
camouflage under specific conditions (strong moonlight? dusk/dawn?) Or,
it might be a neutral characteristic that is coincident to a pigment
deposited for some other reason...
Note 2: When a 7 mm
animals was offered a 3 mm anemone attached to the side of a dish, it
began feeding on it immediately after contact with its cephalic
tentacles. When feeding, it extended its buccal tube and rasped the
column of the anemone while folding its cephalic tentacles along the
sides of its body. It rasped for several "bites" then crawled over the
anemone, turned and repeated the sequence. Several such "attack
sequences" were completed before the anemone was fully consumed. The
use of a repeated, stereotyped "attack sequence" rather than continuous
feeding suggests that it may normally feed on sand dwelling species
that can withdraw or otherwise escape after one or two bites.