Limacia cockerelli (McFarland, 1905)

Common name(s): Orange-clubbed nudibranch, Cockerell's nudibranch

Synonyms: Laila cockerelli Limacia cockerelli
Class Gastropoda 
Superfamily Anadoridoidea 
Tribe Non-Suctoria 
Family Polyceridae 
Limacia cockerelli, 1.8 cm long, found subtidally at Sares Head
(Photo by: Dave Cowles 2014 )

Description:  This dorid nudibranch has a mid-dorsal anus toward the back of the dorsum, surrounded by the gills.  The dorsum has many distinctive narrow, unbranched, club-shaped papillae.  Those around the margins are longer while those nearer the center of the dorsum are shorter.  The body is white or cream-colored and relatively flat, and the gills are short and white and sometimes difficult to see (photo).  A network of spicules can often be seen below the surface of the dorsum (photo).  Many of the papillae are tipped with bright orange, but the dorsum itself is not (except in some S. California populations) and the gills are often not either (though they may occasionally be).  The rhinophores are perfoliate and orange for most of their length (photo).  Length to 2.5 cm.

How to Distinguish from Similar Species:Triopha catalinae is also white and orange but it has fewer dorsal outgrowths and the orange spots can be found on the gills and on the dorsumOkenia rosacea lives mainly farther south and has a rose-pink body.

Geographical Range:  Alaska to Bajia de los Angeles, Baja California, Mexico

Depth Range:  Intertidal to 35 m.  Mostly subtidal in southern parts of range.

Habitat:  On rocks, often near bryozoans

Biology/Natural History:  In individuals near the southern end of the range there is a longitudinal row of orange-tipped tubercles or short papillae down the center of the dorsum.  In more northern individuals such as this one these central tubercles tend to be white-tipped rather than orange-tipped and are more scattered than in a line, even though the more lateral tubercles and the rhinophores are orange-tipped.

This species feeds on bryozoans such as Hinksina velata.  Spawning is in spring in our area.  Unlike most nudibranchs, the spiral ribbon of eggs (which are pink) that it lays is laid flat against the substrate rather than on edge.



Dichotomous Keys:
  Carlton, 2007
  Kozloff, 1987, 1996 (as Laila cockerelli)

General References:
  Behrens, 1991 (As Laila cockerelli)
  Behrens and Hermosillo, 2005
  Harbo, 2011
  Kozloff, 1993 (As Laila cockerelli)
  Morris et al., 1980 (as Laila cockerelli)

Scientific Articles:

Web sites:

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

Head with rhinophores
This closeup of the head shows the rhinophores.  Note also that, although this species generally does not have orange spots on the dorsum, a few small scattered orange spots can be seen here on the head.

This view of the posterior dorsum shows the ring of short, white gills and also the network of spicules below the skin surface that can often be seen in this species.

An individual found off Northwest Island in 2007.  Photo by Dave Cowles

Robbie Wheeling photo
An individual from Coffin Rocks,  Photo by Robbie Wheeling, 2002 

1.7 cm long 2022
This 1.7 cm individual was found at about 15 m depth at Sares Head., July 2022. Note the gill tips on this individual are red. Photo by Dave Cowles

Authors and Editors of Page:
Dave Cowles (2014):  Created original page
CSS coding for page developed by Jonathan Cowles (2007)

Salish Sea Invertebrates web site provided courtesy of Walla Walla University