Felimare picta can be forgiven for having an identify crisis. This nudibranch has had dozens of names since first being described in 1836, in large part because the markings on this sea slug vary widely regionally, leading it to be described as many different species. In some areas it’s a black or dark blue slug with big yellow polka dots while in others it has long yellow lines while in others it has a combination of spots and lines. In addition, the markings change as the nudibranch ages and grows. The other reason it’s had multiple names is because of it’s wide distribution.
This species is found on both sides of the Atlantic, but how does a slow moving slug cross the large barrier of the mid-Atlantic, known as the MAB (mid-Atlantic barrier)? Research studying the complex genetics of this species and sub-species shows it may be down to their reproductive strategy. Felimare picta has the largest eggs amongst nudibranchs, and when the larvae hatch, they are the longest in length of all species. This large size may help the planktonic larvae survive crossing the Atlantic. The study theorizes these large larvae may spend more time as larvae, aiding them in their cross ocean travels.
This nudibranch feeds on Dysidea sp. sponges.