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Tenellia lugubris
(Bergh, 1870)
Tenellia lugubris
Maximum size:  about 55 mm.

Identification:  The body of this aeolid is translucent white but may sometimes appear yellow when the gonad is visible through the body wall. The long, lumpy cerata have varying amounts of white pigment along their length and, often, a prominent white swelling on the distal half. The color of the cerata is determined by the food source and ranges from cream to brown with cream tips. The rhinophores are smooth and translucent brown.

Natural history:  Tenellia lugubris is a moderately common species that has been found in tide pools and in rock and coral habitats from < 1 to 6 m (< 3 to 20 ft). It occurs at protected to moderately exposed sites. It feeds on the coral genus Porites and may be found on the surface of the colonies at night or underneath them by day. It has also been found on the undersides of rocks near Porites colonies. It is a prolific egg-layer, depositing over one egg mass per day when mature, often in clusters. The egg masses are white or cream and "flare" at the distal edges. This is one of the few nudibranchs for which life history data has been collected. Studies by Larry Harris (1975) showed a generation time of 38 days from egg to egg, and a lifespan of approximately 4.5 months. Gochfield and Aeby (1997) reported Thalassoma duperrey, Thalassoma ballieui, Chaetodon auriga, Pilodius aerolatus, Phymodius monticulosus, Thalamita sp., and Gonodactylus falcatus as predators of  this species.

Distribution:  Big Island, Maui, Oahu, French Frigate Shoals and Midway: widely distributed in the Indo-Pacific; also in the eastern Pacific.

Taxonomic notes:  It is listed as Phestilla sibogae Bergh, 1905 in Kay, 1979, Gosliner, 1980, and Bertsch & Johnson, 1981. Aeolidiella edmondsoni Ostergard, 1955 is a synonym (Kay, 1979). It was probably first recorded in Hawaii from Waikiki, Oahu by C. H. Edmondson in April, 1922. It's listed in Ostergard, 1950 as Aeolidia sp. It's referred to as an unidentified aeolid on page 184 of  Edmondson, 1946. The name means "mournful." It is listed in many sources as Phestilla lugubris.

Photo:  PF: found by CP; Napili Bay, Maui; May 22, 1997.

Observations and comments:

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