Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This nudibranch is widespread in the central ocean basins, associated with drifting weed such as Sargassum bacciferum. It is green or brown in colour with scattered white patches. There are two pairs of lateral lobes, which are flattened and bear small branching gills on their upper sides. The large rhinophore sheaths surround lamellate rhinophores and have a flap on their posterior surfaces. The whole body is irregular in outline providing good camouflage amongst floating Sargassum. The animal can swim upwards by flexing its body vigorously, an important ability for a nudibranch which drifts about the oceans.
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Distribution

Massachusetts to the West Indies
  • North-West Atlantic Ocean species (NWARMS)
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Geographic Range

Although the range of S. pelagica does cover much of the Atlantic ocean, it is usually found in warmer waters. More specifically, S. pelagica is most common in the Gulf of Mexico (Fatheringham and Brunmeister 1989).

Biogeographic Regions: atlantic ocean (Native )

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Scyllaea is a vagrant in British Waters, belonging in the Sargasso region off the Caribbean Sea. There appear to be no recent records, but it could turn up stranded on any western coast after gales in the Atlantic.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The nudibranch, S. pelagica, is often called a sea slug. The shell and the mantle cavity have been completely lost, and only secondary gills are present (Mill 1972). They are bilaterally symmetrical and have two pairs of sensory organs (tentacles) near the head, an anterior pair of cephalic tentacles, and a posterior ring of tentacles. These tentacles don't aid in capturing prey, but are sensory organs or aid in respiration. They resemble leaf-like lobes, a form of cryptology in their environment. S. pelagica is orange-brown and yellow in color, and is about 3 to 4 inches (7-10 cm) in length (Fatheringham and Brunemeister 1989).

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Diagnostic Description

Description

Chunky body, up to 6 cm long, with the mantle ridge bearing a line of brown pigment and one or two pairs of irregularly squared cerata which have gills on their inner surfaces. The rhinophores emerge from elongated sheaths. Habitat: lives and feeds on hydroids among the seaweed Sargassum; often washed up on the shore with floating weed. Distribution: pantropical.
  • NODC (1997). NODC Taxonomic codes
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Ecology

Habitat

Pelagic: As stated above, S. pelagica spends almost all of its life grazing in patches of drifting sea weed, more specifically Sargassum weed. S. pelagica mimics its environment, the Sargassum sea weeds, very accurately. The leaf-like lobes along its back, and its specific coloration make it almost impossible to spot when floating in a patch of Sargassum. This is a form of camoflauge that is very successful in deceiving pradators.

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Depth range based on 12 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 5 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 219
  Temperature range (°C): 2.924 - 24.196
  Nitrate (umol/L): 1.589 - 24.197
  Salinity (PPS): 33.004 - 36.423
  Oxygen (ml/l): 3.326 - 6.921
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.132 - 2.182
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.934 - 51.264

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 219

Temperature range (°C): 2.924 - 24.196

Nitrate (umol/L): 1.589 - 24.197

Salinity (PPS): 33.004 - 36.423

Oxygen (ml/l): 3.326 - 6.921

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.132 - 2.182

Silicate (umol/l): 1.934 - 51.264
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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This species feeds on tiny hydroids growing on the Sargassum weed with which it is associated.
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

S. pelagica is carnivorous. It usually feeds on hydroids that are living in the same Sargassum weed in which it makes its home. S. pelagica does not hunt its prey in the traditional sense, but simply floats or grazes in its particular patch of sea weeds (Hickman 1973).

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Life History and Behavior

Reproduction

S. pelagica is hermaphroditic, but cross-fertilizes through reciprocal copulation. Fertilization is internal. Characteristic of nudibranchs, the larva of S. pelagica pass through a planktonic trochophore-like stage (Kaestner 1967).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Scyllaea pelagica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


No available public DNA sequences.

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Scyllaea pelagica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

S. pelagica, along with almost all nudibranchs, are of very little economic importance to humans. There is virtually no market for nudibranchs to be used economically existing in the world today (Morris 1980).

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Wikipedia

Scyllaea pelagica

Scyllaea pelagica, common name the sargassum nudibranch, is a species of nudibranch, a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Scyllaeidae. This species lives among floating seaweed in the world's oceans, feeding on hydroids.

Description[edit]

Scyllaea pelagica is a sturdy nudibranch that grows to a length of about 10 cm (4 in). It is dorso-ventrally flattened. At the anterior end there are two pairs of sensory tentacles and a pair of rhinophores enclosed in large rhinophore sheaths. On the sides of the body are two pairs of irregular lobes with toothed edges and squared ends known as cerata. The inner surfaces of these bear numerous small gills. At the posterior end of the body there is a flattened dorsal crest. The skin is smooth except for a few conical tubercles. The colour is a dull yellowish-brown or greenish-brown with some small white markings. Sometimes there is a row of tiny bright blue spots along each side.[1][2][3]

Distribution[edit]

Scyllaea pelagica occurs globally in pantropical oceans among floating masses of weed.[2] It is especially common in the Caribbean area and Gulf of Mexico and it often gets washed up onto the beach with seaweed after storms.[4]

Biology[edit]

Scyllaea pelagica is nearly always a pelagic species but is occasionally found on brown seaweed anchored to the seabed. It spends its life among sargasso weed (Sargassum spp.) floating in tropical seas where it is well camouflaged. It feeds by grazing on the hydroids that grow on the weed[3] and if it gets detached from the fronds can swim to a limited extent by flexing its body.[4]

Scyllaea pelagica is a hermaphrodite. Two individuals come together to exchange sperm through their genital openings and fertilisation is internal. The eggs are laid in a jelly coated mass on the weed and the trochophore larvae are planktonic.[3] Studies using radioactive carbon labelling have shown that in nutrient-poor waters such as the Sargasso Sea, the larvae of Scyllaea pelagica can directly incorporate into their epidermis and cerata, amino acids that have been added to the water.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gofas, Serge (2012). "Scyllaea pelagica Linnaeus, 1758". World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  2. ^ a b Rudman, W. B. (2004). "Scyllaea pelagica Linnaeus, 1758". The Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  3. ^ a b c Vaughn, Gabriel (2000). "Scyllaea pelagica". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2012-12-14. 
  4. ^ a b "Scyllaea pelagica, Sargassum nudibranch". Encyclopedia of Life. Retrieved 2012-12-15. 
  5. ^ Ferguson, John C. (1988). "Autoradiographic demonstration of the use of free amino acid by Sargasso Sea zooplankton". Plankton Research 10 (6): 1225–1238. doi:10.1093/plankt/10.6.1225. 
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