Pleurobranchaea californica
MacFarland, 1966

Family: Pleurobranchidae


West coast of North America (Oregon to California)


La Jolla Shores, San Diego, California. Photo: M.D.Miller

Species of Pleurobranchaea are medium to large pleurobranchs, with a large oral veil and a reduced mantle skirt. There is no shell. The oral veil is broad with sensory papillae along the anterior edge. The dorsum is light brown, mottled irregularly with darker brown and small whitish patches. It is covered with small low rounded tubercles. Scattered amongst these tubercles are larger, usually whitish, tubercles which can extend into a tapering point. Because of the reduced mantle, the large gill is visible on the right side of the body. The foot is broad, thick and muscular, rounded and bilabiate in front. At the posterior end, the foot is bluntly pointed, with a large, median ventral gland. It is usually considered a deep water species, occurring from 3-400m [10 to 1200 feet]. It is a voracious predator feeding upon various invertebrates and fish. Behrens [message 12142] reports it is also a cannibal. Animals can grow to 21cms long. [from Macfarland, 1966]

See Dr Rhanor Gilette's Slug City website at: for photos, dissection guides, movies, and background information on their research into the behaviour of animals with relatively simple brains.

• Battle, K. & Nybakken, J. (1998). The feeding habits of Pleurobranchaea californica MacFarland, 1966 (Gastropoda: Notaspidea) in Monterey Bay, California. The Veliger, 41(3): 213-226
• Behrens, D.W. (1980) Pacific Coast Nudibranchs. A guide to the opisthobranchs of the northeastern Pacific. Sea Challengers. Los Osos, California.
• MacFarland, F.M. (1966) Studies of opisthobranchiate mollusks of the Pacific coast of North America. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences, 6: 1-546.

Authorship details
Rudman, W.B., 2004 (February 6) Pleurobranchaea californica MacFarland, 1966. [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney. Available from

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