Restricted to the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean Sea
Class Gastropoda (snails, slugs, and relatives), Superfamily Doridoidea (dorid nudibranchs)
Felimare cantabrica is a species of sea slug (nudibranch), native to the northeastern Atlantic Ocean, that has no English common name. Like most sea slugs, it is brightly colored – a warning to potential predators that it is bad tasting and even somewhat poisonous to some species. Felimare cantabrica is carnivorous, eating sponges and other sessile invertebrates on rocky reefs in the Bay of Biscay and Mediterranean Sea. Like most nudibranchs, this species incorporates toxic chemicals from its prey into its own skin. This ability provides Felimare cantabrica with a defense mechanism against predation.
Felimare cantabrica, like all nudibranchs, is simultaneously hermaphroditic – each individual produces both eggs and sperm. An individual cannot fertilize its own eggs, however, and pairs still must mate. They reproduce via internal fertilization and lay eggs, which they stick to the reef surface or other hard substrates. The long strings of eggs are often spiral shaped. Neither parent cares for or guards the eggs.
Like most small marine invertebrates, little is known about the conservation status of Felimare cantabrica, but this species has a relatively small home range. Therefore, any significant changes to the rocky reef ecosystems in its range or general threats to the marine environment could risk this naturally rare species.
Oceana joined forces with Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation organization dedicated to educating and engaging the world’s boating community. Sailors for the Sea developed the KELP (Kids Environmental Lesson Plans) program to create the next generation of ocean stewards. Click here or below to download hands-on marine science activities for kids.