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finely spotted




sp. #5

Goniobranchus sp. #5
Maximum size:  about 70 mm.

Identification:  The ground color of this species is bright white, often lightly "stained" with salmon. There is a red, reticulate pattern in the mid-area of the notum and the lateral portion contains large red spots. The margin is ringed in yellow. The rhinophores are yellow to yellow-orange and the gills are white with red-edged pinnae. The notum is decorated with low, conical pustules that distinguish it from the similar appearing Goniobranchus sp. #1. It is distinguished from Goniobranchus petechialis by its lighter notum and reticulated pattern.

Natural history:  Goniobranchus sp. #5 is a common, diurnal species seen on rocky bottoms from < 1 to 15 m (< 3 to 49 ft) at Midway and Kure atolls. Recently, it's been photographed at exposed to highly exposed rocky sites in the main islands. One of those animals was under a ledge at about 12 m (40 ft). (Note 1)

Distribution:  Oahu, Niihau, Midway and Kure.

Taxonomic notes:  Goniobranchus sp. #5 appears to be closely related to G. petechialis (there is some possibility it might ultimately prove to be a color form of that species) and both are part of the Indo-Pacific Goniobranchus tinctoria complex. It's listed in Hoover, 2006 (5th printing) as Chromodoris sp. 2 (corrected in 2019 printing) and is referred to as the "Midway nudibranch." It may have been first found in Hawaii at Oahu in the 1960s as illustrated in Kay & Young, 1969 (a photo labeled C. petachialis).

Photo:  PF: Midway Atoll; May 29, 1998. 

Observations and comments:

Note 1:  It's rarely been reported from the main islands. It appears in Kay & Young, 1969 in an Oahu photo labelled C. petachialis. To our knowledge, that is the only main islands record prior to an animal found by Anthony Kuntz at Niihau in 2011 and animals found by David Rolla at Oahu in 2016 and 2018.
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