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Phyllaplysia
cf. lafonti Fischer, 1872
 
Phyllaplysia cf. lafonti
Maximum size:  30 mm (Bertsch & Johnson, 1981).

Identification:  This sea hare is translucent-cream with longitudinal powder-white stripes and, often, faint violet blotches. Its body is smooth and flattened when resting on its host algae.

Natural history:  Phyllaplysia cf. lafonti lives on the brown algae Padina on which it's superbly camouflaged. It appears to be rare in shallow rocky habitats. We've never seen it on Maui (although one was recently photographed by Angel Valdes).  Scott Johnson found one in a tide pool at an exposed site on Oahu. Shells found in sand samples from Halimeda kanaloana beds suggest that it may be more common in that community at greater depths.

Distribution:  Maui, Oahu and French Frigate Shoals: may be widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific (pending further work to determine whether the Hawaii population is the same as others in the Indo-Pacific).

Taxonomic notes:  This is the species listed in Kay, 1979 and Bertsch and Johnson, 1981 as Petallifera Petallifera (Rang, 1928). It's also listed in some sources as Petallifera lafonti. Carlo Cunha (pers. com.) suggested that it should be in the genus Phyllaplysia and that the Pacific animals will probably turn out to be distinct from the Atlantic Phyllaplysia lafonti.

Photo:  Scott Johnson: side: Makapuu Point, Oahu; July, 1980.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  ( )
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