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cerata detail

underside, faded



2nd animal

on food alga

releasing fluid

sp. #7
Ercolania sp. #7
Maximum size:  6 mm.

Identification:  This species has a cream body with scattered white flecks and green branches of the digestive gland extending into the sides of the head and the basses of the rhinophores. There are many slender cerata and the digestive gland forms ascending fine branches in their centers. The outermost branches in the cerata are dark green and the tips of the cerata are filled with cream masses (glandular?). Some animals may have a faint orange tinge on the front of the head. Young animals may have proportionately thicker and less elaborate branches of the digestive gland.

Natural history:  Ercolania sp. #7 is a moderately rare species known on Maui from at least seven animals found in protected to moderately exposed areas as a depth of < 1 to 5 m (< 3 to 15 ft). They showed a diurnal activity pattern when held and assumed a partially contracted, pompom-like posture when resting. One animal held for four days without food lost much of its green pigment. An additional 4-5 animals were found by Nikki Decker in clumps of Cladophoropsis sundanensis collected from a tide pool at Makapu'u Beach, Oahu (suggesting that it feeds on that alga). It may release a milky-white defensive fluid when disturbed. (Note 1)

Distribution:  Big Island, Maui, Oahu and Kauai.

Taxonomic notes:  It was first recorded in Hawaii from Hekili Point, Maui by CP on June, 25, 1997.

Photo:  CP: 6 mm: Hekili Point, Maui; Nov. 29, 2004.

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  Karolle Wall reported observing one "...just cruising along and all of a sudden it was covered in this white cloudy stuff."
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