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Species Name:    Spurilla neapolitana
Common Name:            Neopolitan Spurilla



Kingdom Phylum/Division: Class: Order: Family: Genus:
Animalia Mollusca Gastropoda Nudibranchia Aeolidiidae Spurilla

Neopolitan spurilla, Spurilla neapolitana. Photograph A. Artour.

Species Name: 
Spurilla neapolitana delle Chiaje, 1823

Common Name:
Neopolitan Spurilla

Species Description:
Spurilla neapolitana is a nudibranch in the family Aeolidiidae. The body of neopolitan spurilla ranges in color from pink to orange, while the digestive gland ducts in the cerata, respiratory papillae of the mantle are usually grey to dark brown. Patches of opaque white pigment on the body are present in some individuals. The rhinophores are lamellate, and the cerata quite flattened (Garcia and Cervera 1985).


Regional Occurrence:
Spurilla neapolitana is found throughout the world's warm oceans from the Mediterranean, to the West Atlantic from Florida to Brazil, and in the East Pacific (Baja California) (Garcia and Cervera 1985).

IRL Distribution:
Spurilla neapolitana is found in the Indian River Lagoon.


Age, Size, Lifespan:
This large aeolid nudibranch grows to at least 70 mm in the Mediterranean.

An individual of Spurilla neapolitana can store nearly 3,300 unfired nematocysts derived from its prey in cnidosacs located in the cerata. Immature nematocysts obtained during grazing continue to mature within the cnidosacs and can be used as a defense against predators (Greenwood and Mariscal 1984).

Astyris lunata have separate sexes and males have a penis (Brusca and Brusca 1990). Reproduction occurs by copulation. Members of the family Columbellidae lay egg capsules with multiple eggs per capsule.


Trophic Mode:
Spurilla neapolitana preys on Cnidarians and incorporates unfired nematocysts in their cerata (Marin and Ros 1991).

Associated Species:
Spurilla neapolitana is also thought to harbour zooxanthellae, obtained from preying on sea anemones, for its own nutritionally needs. One study suggests that cnidarians may be re-infected with zoozanthellae from the feces of the nudibranch as they remain photosynthetically active after leaving S. neapolitana (Marin and Ros 1991).


Garcia JC and JL Cervera. 1985. Revision of Spurilla neapolitana Delle Chiaje, 1823 (Mollusca: Nudibranchiata) Journal of Molluscan Studies 51:138-156.

Greenwood PG and RN Mariscal. 1984. Immature nematocyst incorporation by the aeolid nudibranch Spurilla neapolitana. Marine Biology 80:35-38.

ITIS. Integrated taxonomic information system. Available online.

Marin A and J Ros. 1991. Presence of intracellular zooxanthellae in Mediterranean nudibranchs. Journal of Molluscan Studies 57, no. 4 suppl.

The Sea Slug Forum. Available online.

Report by: Melany P. Puglisi, Smithsonian Marine Station
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Page last updated: October 1, 2008