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Goniobranchus
sp. #5

 
Goniobranchus sp. #5
Maximum size:  about 70 mm.

Identification:  The ground color of this species is bright white, often lightly "stained" with salmon. There is a red, reticulate pattern in the mid-area of the notum and the lateral portion contains large red spots. The margin is ringed in yellow. The rhinophores are yellow to yellow-orange and the gills are white with red-edged pinnae. The notum is decorated with low, conical pustules that distinguish it from the similar appearing Goniobranchus sp. #1. It is distinguished from Goniobranchus petechialis by its lighter notum and reticulate pattern.

Natural history:  Goniobranchus sp. #5 is a common, diurnal species seen on rocky bottoms from < 1 to 15 m (< 3 to 49 ft) at Midway and Kure atolls. Recently, Anthony Kuntz found one at a highly exposed, rocky site on Niihau (pers. com,). Also, David Rolla found one at Pupukea on Oahu (another exposed site). (Note 1)

Distribution:  Oahu, Niihau, Midway and Kure.

Taxonomic notes:  Goniobranchus sp. #5 appears to be closely related to G. petechialis (there is some possibility it might ultimately prove to be a color form of that species) and both are part of the Indo-Pacific Goniobranchus tinctoria complex. It's listed in Hoover, 2006 (5th printing) as Chromodoris sp. 2 and is referred to as the "Midway nudibranch."

Photo:  PF: Midway; May 29, 1998. 

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  There were no main island records till the Niihau animal in 2011 and the Oahu animal in 2016. Introduction seems unlikely. So, perhaps this species is moving "down chain" due to changes in water temperature?
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