Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine
J. Sherman Bleakney

The Nova Scotia Museum Field Guide Series
Nimbus Publishing & Nova Scotia Museum
Halifax, Nova Scotia
ISBN 1-55109-192-5
216 pages.
Size: 11.5 x 20.5 cm (4.5" x 8").
Price: Approx $US15

This book, published in 1996, covers a fauna we know little about. I recently ordered a copy because I was puzzled about why I had heard so little about it, and had never seen it referred to.

Having now read it, I am still puzzled by its low profile amongst malacologists and amateurs. Certainly it has no colour photos, but it has excellent line drawings and a wealth of information on the external features, natural history and geographic distribution of each of the 47 species from the Atlantic coast of Canada that are included in the book. The records are entirely based on intertidal records so there is clearly scope for further additions to the list, but it is a great advance on what was available before.

I have three mildly negative comments. I am surprised that there are no colour photographs. Even a couple of plates with representative species would have helped to whet the appetite of the general public, which is clearly one of the author's goals. Which neatly leads me to my second point. I don't believe it is necessary to 'write down' to a public audience or to think that kids will only listen if you 'act foolish'. Some of the text makes me decidedly uncomfortable. For example, the first sentence in the Preface: "Sea slugs are beautiful, the very antithesis of garden slugs, so stop saying "yuk!" and in an informative discussion on developmental strategies, juveniles are called 'kids' who can 'immediately pig out with their parents' after hatching. And thirdly, proof-reading seems to have broken down at some stage. References are repeated in many cases. For example Palio nothus has the three references duplicated.

Whatever its shortcomings in presentation, it contains a wealth of information. As the only recent publication covering the opisthobranch fauna of the temperate waters of the Atlantic coast of North America, I think it is a good buy at under $US20 dollars.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2000 (July 29) Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine. J. Sherman Bleakney. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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