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Phylum Mollusca > Class Gastropoda > sea slugs > Order Sacoglossa
Bushy slug
Polybranchia orientalis
Family Caliphyllidae
updated Jun 2020
Where seen? This slug looks just like a bit of boring seaweed, so it's often overlooked unless you know what to look for. It is sometimes seen on our Northern shores moving among seaweeds at night. This slug was previously called Phyllobranchus or Phyllobranchillus orientalis.

Features: 4-5cm. Body with a lot of large leaf-like extensions (called cerata). So it does appear like a tiny bush. The cerata contain fine branching digestive glands. The cerata drop off easily when the animal is handled, and tend to stick to the hand. New cerata grow back in a few days. In addition, a distasteful milky secretion is produced by glands on the edges of the cerata. It has an internal shell, a pair of tentacles (called rhinophores) that are branched. The tentacles are sually hidden by the cerata.

What does it eat? Like other sap-sucking slugs, it eats seaweeds. It is believed that the colour of the animal varies with the colour of the seaweed that it last ate. Thus, they may be green, brown or red. They may be transparent if they haven't eaten much. On Cyrene Reef, several individuals were seen nestled in a large clump of Caulerpa racemosa.

Out of water, the internal parts can be seen.
Changi, May 11

Branched rhinophores.

Chek Jawa, Aug 05

Pulau Sekudu, Aug 05

Bushy slugs on Singapore shores
On wildsingapore flickr

Other sightings on Singapore shores

Changi Carpark 7, May 21
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Chek Jawa, Jul 18
Photo shared by Toh Chay Hoon on facebook.

Pulau Sekudu, Aug 23
Photo shared by Kelvin Yong on facebook.

Beting Bronok, Jul 07
Photo shared by Marcus Ng on flickr.

East Coast Park, Jul 13
Photo shared by Loh Kok Sheng on flickr.

Links References
  • Tan Siong Kiat and Henrietta P. M. Woo, 2010 Preliminary Checklist of The Molluscs of Singapore (pdf), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.
  • Debelius, Helmut, 2001. Nudibranchs and Sea Snails: Indo-Pacific Field Guide IKAN-Unterwasserachiv, Frankfurt. 321 pp.
  • Wells, Fred E. and Clayton W. Bryce. 2000. Slugs of Western Australia: A guide to the species from the Indian to West Pacific Oceans. Western Australian Museum. 184 pp.
  • Humann, Paul and Ned Deloach. 2010. Reef Creature Identification: Tropical Pacific New World Publications. 497pp.
  • Kuiter, Rudie H and Helmut Debelius. 2009. World Atlas of Marine Fauna. IKAN-Unterwasserachiv. 723pp.
  • Coleman, Neville. 2001. 1001 Nudibranchs: Catalogue of Indo-Pacific Sea Slugs. Neville Colemanís Underwater Geographic Pty Ltd, Australia.144pp.
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