Elysia chlorotica
Gould, 1870

Superfamily: ELYSIOIDEA
Family: Elysiidae


East coast of Nth America from Nova Scotia to Florida.


Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, USA, November, 1999. PHOTO: Dr. Mary Rumpho.

Typical elysiid shape with large lateral parapodia which fold over to enclose the body. Usually bright green in colour but can sometimes be reddish or greyish, apparently depending on the amount of chlorophyll in the branches of the digestive gland which ramify throughout the body. As well as the green pigmentation from the digestive gland showing through, there are also small white spots scattered over the body and numerous, but smaller, red spots. It can grow to 45 mm in length but is usually no more than 20-30 mm.

It feeds by sucking the cell contents from the intertidal algae Vaucheria. It is become an important study animal from plant physiologists because, like many sacoglossans, it keeps chloroplasts from its food, alive and functioning its own body. See solar powered slugs Fact Sheet. It is found commonly in salt marshes, tidal marshes, pools and shallow creeks.

[NOTE: Originally listed in the Forum as Elysia sp. 7 ].

  • Bleakney, J.S. (1996) Sea Slugs of Atlantic Canada and the Gulf of Maine. The Nova Scotia Museum Field Guide Series. Nimbus Publishing & Nova Scotia Museum: Halifax, Nova Scotia. 216pp.
  • Gould, A.A. (1870). Report on the Invertebrata of Massachusetts. Second edition, comprising the mollusca. Edited by W.G. Binney. Boston, v(3) plus 524 pp., text figs. 350-754, coloured pls. 16-27 comprising figs. 214-349
  • Green, B.J., Li, W., Manhart, J.R., Fox, T.C., Summer, E.J., Kennedy, R.A., Pierce, S.K. & Rumpho, M.E. (2000). Mollusc-Algal Chloroplast Endosymbiosis. Photosynthesis, Thylakoid Protein Maintenance, and Chloroplast Gene Expression Continue for Many Months in the Absence of the Algal Nucleus. Plant Physiology, 124: 331-342.
  • West, H.H., Harrigan, J.F. & Pierce, S.K. (1984) Hybridization of two populations of a marine opisthobranch with different developmental patterns. The Veliger, 26(3) 199-206.
Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2005 (May 13) Elysia chlorotica Gould, 1870. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/elyschlo

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