Geitodoris heathi (MacFarland, 1905)

Common name(s): Gritty dorid

Synonyms: Discodoris heathi Geitodoris heathi
Phylum Mollusca
 Class Gastropoda
  Subclass Opisthobranchia
   Order Nudibranchia
    Suborder Doridacea
     Family Discodorididae
Geitodoris heathi, about 5 cm long, at Watauga Beach, Kitsap County, WA
(Photo by: Karin Fletcher, May 2019)
Description:  This dorid nudibranch is of the common form, with the anus on the midline of the dorsum, 1/2 to 1/4 the body length from the posterior end, gills in a circle or semicircle around the anus, dorsal rhinophores and gills but no large tubercles or other large outgrowths.  Soft but gritty to the touch.  The gills can be retracted into sheaths, and the rhinophores are at less than 4x as long as wide.  The body of this species is off-white to pale yellow, with small black spots that are not ring-shaped.  Sometimes the spots are concentrated just in front of the gills.  The foot has papillae on the upper surface. (photo)

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:  This species is very similar to Dialula sandiegensis and, according to some keys, would be keyed as that species.  However, it has spots rather than rings on the dorsum.  In my experience there is a range of phenotypes in this group of nudibranchs from solid spots through spots with pale centers to rings; so it may be part of a species complex or the same species as D. sandiegensis.

Geographical Range:  Vancouver Island, BC Canada to Bahia de San Qintin, Baja California, Mexico

Depth Range:


Biology/Natural History:  Feeds on sponges such as Halichondrea panacea, Myxilla incrustans, and Adocia gellindra.

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Dichotomous Keys:
  Kozloff 1987, 1996
  Smith and Carlton, 1975

General References:
  Morris et al., 1980

Scientific Articles:

Web sites:

General Notes and Observations:  Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:

View of the gills

In this view of the anterior part of the body, one can see the stubby rhinophores and also the papillae on the upper surface of the foot.
Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2005

An underwater photo taken by Kirt Onthank, June 2007

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2005):  Created original page