Phyllidiopsis cardinalis    Bergh, 1876

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This species has been observed on Reunion, Mauritius, Mayotte, Madagascar and Seychelles Islands

Order : Nudibranchia
Suborder : Euctenidiacea
Superfamily : Phyllidioidea
Family : Phyllidiidae
Distribution : Tropical Indo-West Pacific.
Maximal size : 64 mm
Abundance : Frequently on the fore reef zone

Species characteristics :

The general background coloration is dark mustard yellow to red-orange or red-brown

The rhinophores are deep yellow in colour with the outer edge of the lamellae dark olive.

The large tubercles usually have a pattern of reddish orange veins

The foot sole is uniformely yellow

Phyllidiopsis cardinalis E.Eby

Showing species characteristics...

Photo Emmanuel Eby
Réunion, Saint Leu, 60 mm, 25 July 2004

See more about : Sightening and mating periods
    See more about : Phyllidiopsis cardinalis variability in Southwest Indian ocean

Remarks :

Identification confirmed by Bill Rudman
    Synonymous : (according Worms)
          - Phyllidia tuberculata Risbec, 1928

Bibliographic data :

Material examined by David J.Brunckhorst ( see references/publications).

50, 50 & 25 mm specimens, Reunion Island, 1-20 m depth, 1987, M.Ja
     8 mm specimen, Reunion Island, 18 m depth, 1 Dec 1989, M.Jay
    62, 46, 44, 38 & 35 mm specimens, Reunion Island, 5-20 m depth, 1989, M.Jay

Other external morphology characteristics

Live specimens ranged in length from 7 -64 mm and average size was 24 mm.
    The rhinophores are slightly club-shaped and deep yellow in colour with the outer edge of the lamellae dark olive, and each rhinophoral clavus possesses 18 ot 20 broad lamellae (specimens greater than 25mm).
The dark olive colouration becomes more predominant at the apex of each rhinophore and some specimens could have green rhinophores (see below, photo from Marina Poddubetskaia)
    The isolated tubercles are large and multicompound with numerous, small, rounded tubercles, they usually have a pattern of reddish orange veins. Shades of purple, grey, pink or yellow occur around the tubercle bases.
    The rim of the anal opening may be edged in dark grey-black.
    The mantle margin is yellow to olive-yellow with dark grey-black spots.

References :

Bill Rudman Seaslug site : Sea Slug Forum : Phyllidiopsis cardinalis
   Nudipixel Phyllidiopsis cardinalis

Publications :

Brunckhorst,D.J. (1993) The systematics and phylogeny of Phyllidiid Nudibranchs (Doridoidea). Records of the Australian Museum, Supplement 16 : 1-107.

Other photos of Phyllidiopsis cardinalis :

Emmanuel Eby


Photo of the yellow foot and underside of this animal


Réunion, Saint Leu, 60 mm , 25 July 2004

Phyllidiopsis cardinalis E.Eby

Sophie Darnis

Seychelles, Île Marianne, south point, 12 m, 2 December 2010, size : 4 mm for the smaller (a)

In the central area of this juvenile form you can observed small tubercule areas...

Coexist under that rock specimens of all sizes...

Phyllidiopsis cardinalis M.Jay

Alain-Benoît Rassat

Madagascar, Nosy Bé, Ledge, 8 m, 23 December 2015, size : 10 mm



The adult pattern became to, appear in this specimen...


Marina Poddubetskaia


Sea slugs photographed on the dead coral where it was found

Réunion, Dive site is "Banc de sable" at Saint Leu, 13m, 9 October 2002, size : 15-20 mm

Photo which shows the animal on a sponge rather than a dead coral. It may prove to be a useful feeding record.

Phyllidiopsis cardinalis E.Eby

Underside view of P.cardinalis


This photo of the foot and underside of the animal, showing the characteristic yellow colour.

It also shows the gills (a), below the mantle skirt..


Monika Bachel

Réunion, Cap La Houssaye at Saint Paul, 8 m, 30 August 2008, size : 40 mm

   More photos from Indian Ocean

See more about : Phyllidiopsis cardinalis variability in Southwest Indian ocean

Reunion, Phyllidiopsis cardinalis, at Saint leu, by Emmanuel Eby

Mauritius, Phyllidiopsis cardinalis, at Pereybère, by Marina Poddubetskaia

Reunion, begining of mating between two P cardinalis, at Saint Leu, by Philippe Cao Van 

Réunion, Phyllidiopsis cardinalis with deep gren rhinophore, at Saint Gilles, by Alain Diringer 

Reunion, rhinophore detail of Phyllidiopsis cardinalis, at Saint Pierre, by David Faget  

Reunion, gills of Phyllidiopsis cardinalis, at Sainte Rose, by Thierry Cailleux  

Mayotte, Phyllidiopsis cardinalis, at Bandrélé, by Norbert Verneau

Madagascar, Phyllidiopsis cardinalis, at Nosy Bé, by Alain-Benoît Rassat