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young, 5 mm

resting pair

egg mass

Doris pecten
Collingwood, 1881
Doris pecten
Maximum size:  22 mm.

Identification:  This is a blue species with about seven gills arranged in a semicircle. There is a dorsal flap covering the gill opening.

Natural history:  Doris pecten is a common species found under rocks in the low intertidal at protected to moderately exposed rocky sites. Occasionally, it may also be found subtidally at more exposed sites to depths of 9 m (30 ft). It feeds on the thin blue sponge, Terpios aploos (on which it's superbly camouflaged) and lays a cream, spiral egg mass that hatches in five to seven days in the laboratory. Often, paired animals may be found on their food sponge and near egg masses. (Note 1)

Distribution:  Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai: widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  This is the species listed as Doriopsis pecten (Collingwood, 1881) in Kay, 1979, Kay & Young, 1969 and Bertsch & Johnson, 1981. The left hand animal in the bottom photo on page 35 of the latter is actually Doris nucleola. It was probably first reported from Hawaii in Pease, 1860 and is referenced in the text on page 182 in Edmondson, 1946.

Photo:  PF: 8 mm; on food sponge: found by CP; Hekili Point, Maui; May 5, 1993.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  As in many other dorids, pairs of this species often include animals that vary greatly in size. Since the testes develop first in young animals, the smaller animal initially acts as a male until it becomes large enough to also begin laying eggs. (see photo).
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