Brazil to Caribbean
Tampa Bay, Florida, USA. Photo: Nicholas Curtis
Animal flattened as typical for the genus and very cryptic on the leaves of marine plants on which it is found. Colour translucent with spotting and patching of pink, brown, white and shades of green, the proportions varying between animals. Some species have white longitudinal lines, and some have low papillae. They grow to at least 15mm long.
Note: I suspect this animal is Phyllaplysia engeli which is widespread in the warm water western Atlantic from Brazil to the Caribbean. However Kerry Clark (1977) described a second species from Florida, Phyllaplysia smaragda which may be this animal. Clark notes a number of anatomical differences which I obviously can't compare, and a few external differences. In particular he described P. engeli as having a rounded body while P. smaragda was elongated. He also described the oral tentacles of P. engeli to be flattened and distinctly separated while those of P. smaragda were rounded and joined at the base. Unfortunately in this photo the animal seems to be rounded as in P. engeli but has oral tentacles that fit the description of P. smaragda.
• Clark, K.B. (1977) Phyllaplysia smaragda (Opisthobranchia: Notarchidae), a new anaspidean from Florida. Bulletin of Marine Science, 27(4): 651-657.
• Marcus, Er. (1955) Opisthobranchia from Brazil. Boletim da Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciencias e Letras. Universidade de Sao Paulo, Zoologia, 20: 89-261. (Pls. 1-30)
• Marcus, Ev. (1972) On the Anaspidea (Gastropoda: Opisthobranchia) of the warm waters of the western Atlantic. Bulletin of Marine Science, 22(4): 841-874.
• Marcus, Ev. & Hughes, H.P.I. (1974) Opisthobranch mollusks from Barbados. Bulletin of Marine Science, 24(3): 498-532.
• Redfern. C., 2001. Bahamian Seashells: a Thousand Species from Abaco, Bahamas.
Rudman, W.B., 2004 (January 12) Phyllaplysia engeli Marcus, 1955. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from http://www.seaslugforum.net/factsheet/phylenge
Re: Phyllaplysia smaragda or P. engeli from Florida
From: Geoffrey Smith, July 9, 2008
Phyllaplysia smaragda or P. engeli from Florida
From: Geoffrey Smith Jr., July 8, 2008
Phyllaplysia engeli from Florida
From: William Schill, January 29, 2005
Phyllaplysia from Tampa Bay, Florida
From: Nicholas Curtis, January 14, 2004