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Plocamopherus
cf. imperialis Angas, 1864
 
Plocamopherus cf. imperialis
Maximum size:  about 35 mm.

Identification:  This is a mustard-yellow animal minutely flecked with brown. There are clusters of white flecks on the papillae and gills. There are three pairs of enlarged, pink-tipped papillae on the sides of the notum with the posterior pair having greatly inflated, hemispherical tips. There is a tall dorsal crest on the anterior portion of the notum that is fringed with fine papillae.

Natural history:  Plocamopherus cf. imperialis is known from a single animal found crawling at night at about 5 m (17 ft) in a Halimeda kanaloana bed. The hemispherical tips on the posterior lateral papillae are probably bioluminescent and it can swim by lateral flexing if disturbed. (Note 1)

Distribution:  Maui: Plocamopherus imperialis is known from New South Wales and New Zealand with  related animals in Japan and elsewhere.

Taxonomic notes:  The over-all form and color are similar to some photos of P. imperialis from elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific. But, there's enough uncertainty regarding which animals are included in that species that we've opted to use "cf." It was first recorded in Hawaii from Maalaea Bay, Maui by Katherine Shepherd on Dec. 16, 2012.

Photo: Katherine Shepherd: about 35 mm: Maalaea Bay, Maui; Dec. 16, 2012.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  Katherine stated that she observed it attempting to swim in the field.
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