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large, about 30 mm


extra rhinophores

interrupted line

wide line



on food sponge?

with eggs

Thorunna kahuna
Johnson & Gosliner, 2001
Thorunna kahuna
Maximum size:  30 mm (Gosliner, et. al., 2008).

Identification:  This species is translucent pinkish-white with a magenta submarginal line on the mantle that may be interrupted in some animals. Occasionally, a narrow white line may be present inside the magenta one. The rhinophores have translucent pink stalks and orange-red clubs while the gills are orange-red with translucent pink bases. Rarely, they may have white tips. (see photo) It can be distinguished from Thorunna daniellae by the prominent, opaque-white mantle glands around the posterior margin and, occasionally, in front of the rhinophores (seen as distinct white granules). The latter species also has an opaque white notum and the boundary between the orange and white pigment on the rhinophores is angled rather than straight.

Natural history:  Thorunna kahuna is rare on Maui but more common on Oahu in rocky habitats at moderately protected to moderately exposed locations, often under silty conditions. It is found at depths of 3-24 m (10-80 ft) and vibrates its gills. It feeds on the sponge Dysidea sp. (Gosliner, et. al., 2008). It lays a cream egg mass.

Distribution:  Big Island, Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Midway and Kure.

Taxonomic notes:  This species was listed as Babaina daniellae in Bertsch and Johnson, 1981 and as Thorunna sp. in Hoover, 1998. It was first recorded in Hawaii at Magic Island, Oahu by Scott Johnson on Nov. 13, 1977. The name is from the Hawaiian word for “healer” in reference to the visible mantle glands that may one day be found to contain chemicals that might aid in the treatment of disease. It's referred to as the "pink-tinged Thorunna" in Hoover, 1998 and as the "kahuna nudibranch" in Hoover, 2006.

Photo:  CP: 14 mm: Mala Wharf, Maui; Dec. 9, 2004.

Observations and comments:

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