Ercolania kencolesi
Grzymbowski, Stemmer & Wagele, 2007

Family: Limapontiidae


Known from Great Barrier Reef, Nth Queensland and Guam.


Living animals from Lizard Island, Nth Queensland, Australia. Upper: Animal after 2 hours in giant cell of Boergesenia. Lower left: Animal after 4 days starvation, length approx 3 mm. Lower right: Animal just removed from algal cell, length approx 5 mm. Photos with permission from Grzymbowski, Y., Stemmer, K. & Wagele, H, (2007).

Small elongate animals with a pair of relatively large solid rhinophores. The cerata are arranged irregularly down each side of the body, the dorsal space being clear of cerata. The body is translucent clear with a greenish tinge in well fed animals, which changes to a yellowish brown when animals are starved. Microscopic green specks, which are the endings of fine branches of the digestive glands can be seen all over the skin. There is also regular pattern of white markings on the rhinophores and cerata, which appear to be from internal aggregations of glands or granules. The rhinophores have a white tip and a white band about midway along their length. There is also a subapical white band on each ceras.

This species lives in association with the algae Boergesenia forbesii (Siphonocladales), and alga which consists of giant bubble-shaped cells. Ercolania kencolesi  lives both in and out of the algal cells, but to feed it pierces a hole in the giant cell, crawls inside and ingest the cell contents, including the chloroplasts along the inside cell wall. Egg masses are also laid inside the algal cell.

This species is very similar in habit to Ercolania endophytophaga which lives and feeds in the giant cells of Struvea plumosa and Valonia, two other members of the Siphonocladales

Note: This species was previously known on the Forum as Ercolania sp. 1

  • Grzymbowski, Y., Stemmer, K. & Wagele, H. 2007 On a new Ercolania Trinchese, 1872 (Opisthobranchia, Sacoglossa, Limapontiidae) living within Boergesenia Feldmann, 1950 (Cladophorales), with notes on anatomy, histology and biology. Zootaxa, 1577: 3-16

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2007 (September 13) Ercolania kencolesi Grzymbowski, Stemmer & Wagele, 2007. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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