on food sponge?
Phyllidiopsis sphingis Brunckhorst, 1993
|Maximum size: 23 mm.
body of this species is white with three low, longitudinal ridges
of tiny white tubercles. Two black lines run between the ridges.
Another black line runs around the perimeter of the ridges. From this
line, black rays extend to the mantle edge creating a scalloped
pattern. The areas between these rays are suffused with brilliant,
iridescent blue granules. The rhinophores vary from cream to tan.
is a moderately common species found in shaded areas (such as the
walls of caverns and under
ledges) in moderately protected to highly exposed locations at
depths of 5-20 m (16-66 ft). It may feed on a yellow sponge. (Note 1)
Big Island, Maui, Lanai, Oahu, Kauai and Niihau: widely distributed in the western
& central Pacific.
photo labeled Phyllidia nigra
Pease, 1868c in Kay, 1979 appears to be of this species although the
text probably refers to Phyllidiella
rosans. It is listed as the "blue-black Phyllidia" in Bertsch
Johnson, 1981. Terry Gosliner suggested that the elongate,
crawling animal (see photo)
might be sufficiently different to justify listing as a separate
species. (pers. com). However, we've opted to lump pending further
work. It's also possible that all Hawaiian animals will prove distinct from other Indo-Pacific populations of P. sphingis. The elongate animal is listed as "Phyllidiopsis
sp. 2" in Gosliner, et. al., 2008 and "Phyllidiopsis sp. 3" in Gosliner, et. al., 2018. The name is
derived from the
sphinx of Greek mythology. It is referred to as the "sphinx Phyllidia"
in Hoover, 1998 & 2006.
Photo: PF: 12 mm: inside Cathedrals II, Lanai; Oct. 16, 1987.
Observations and comments:
1: This species has often been photographed on or near a bright yellow sponge but obvious feeding damage hasn't been noted.