Triopha catalinae (Cooper, 1863)
Common name(s): Sea clown nudibranch, Clown nudibranch
|Synonyms: Triopha carpenteri, Catalina triopha|
|Triopha catalinae subtidal from off Sares Head. A metric ruler is in the background.|
|(Photo by: Dave Cowles, July 1997)|
How to Distinguish from Similar Species: This nudibranch is distinctive in our area. No other has the combination of white body scattered with orange coronatepapillae and deep orange on the tips of the gills and rhinophores.
Geographical Range: From the Aleutian Islands, Alaska to Baja California
Depth Range: Intertidal to 35 m.
Habitat: Rocky areas or around kelp beds.
Biology/Natural History: This is one of the largest nudibranchs able to crawl on the underside of the surface film in tide pools. It feeds on bryozoans such as Bugula californica by digesting the soft parts. Tide pool fish avoid Triopha, and this is believed to be because of some sort of chemical repellant. In Washington eggs have been observed in April and June. The coil of eggs formed is white or cream-colored (photo). The ribbon of eggs is attached to a solid surface by its shorter edge (photo). The free edge is wavy and appears like a ribbon.
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Johnson and Snook, 1955 (as Triopha carpenteri)
Morris, et. al., 1980
General Notes and Observations: Locations, abundances, unusual behaviors:
This nudibranch is usually one of the most commonly found subtidally
along Sares Head and Northwest Island.
Two individuals mating (they are hermaphroditic). This species mates very readily in aquaria if given half a chance. Photo by Dave Cowles, July 2000
This individual is laying a string of eggs. View from below. Photo by Dave Cowles, 2-2004
An underwater photo by Kirt Onthank, June 2007