Pleurobranchaea maculata

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Pleurobranchaea maculata
Pleurobranchaea maculata.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Heterobranchia

clade Euthyneura
clade Nudipleura
clade Pleurobranchomorpha

Superfamily: Pleurobranchoidea
Family: Pleurobranchaeidae
Genus: Pleurobranchaea
Species: P. maculata
Binomial name
Pleurobranchaea maculata
Quoy & Gaimard, 1834

Pleurobranchaea maculata, or the grey side-gilled slug, is a species of sea slug, specifically a side-gill slug or notaspidean. It is a marine gastropod mollusc in the family Pleurobranchaeidae.


This species occurs around the North Island and South Island of New Zealand. In 2009 it has been reported very outside their native range, on the coast of Argentina from where it spread rapidly, currently encompassing ca. 2,000 km along the southwestern Atlantic coast.[1][2]


This side-gill slug is found intertidally in harbours, and to depths of up to 250 m off rocky coasts.


This slug has no shell. The coloration is pale grey, densely patterned with short, brown lines. The animal is up to 100 mm in length.

Life habits[edit]

This slug eats sea anemones, marine worms, and molluscs.

In 2009, a major scare in the Auckland Region of New Zealand was sparked after several dogs died of tetrodotoxin poisoning after eating Pleurobranchaea maculata (grey side-gilled seaslug) on beaches.[3] Children and pet owners were asked to avoid beaches, and recreational fishing was also interrupted for a time. After exhaustive analysis, it was found that the sea slugs must have ingested tetrodotoxin.[4]


  1. ^ Farias, N. E.; Wood, S. A.; Obenat, S.; Schwindt, E. (2016-07-02). "Genetic barcoding confirms the presence of the neurotoxic sea slug Pleurobranchaea maculata in southwestern Atlantic coast". New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 43 (3): 292–298. ISSN 0301-4223. doi:10.1080/03014223.2016.1159582. 
  2. ^ Farias, N. E.; Obenat, S.; Goya, A. B. (2015-01-02). "Outbreak of a neurotoxic side-gilled sea slug (Pleurobranchaea sp.) in Argentinian coasts". New Zealand Journal of Zoology. 42 (1): 51–56. ISSN 0301-4223. doi:10.1080/03014223.2014.990045. 
  3. ^ McNabb, P.; Mackenzie, L.; Selwood, A.; Rhodes, L.; Taylor, D.; Cornelison, C. (2009). Review of tetrodotoxins in the sea slug Pleurobranchaea maculata and coincidence of dog deaths along Auckland beaches. Prepared by Cawthron Institute for the Auckland Regional Council. Auckland Regional Council Technical Report 2009/ 108.
  4. ^ Gibson, Eloise (15 August 2009). "Puffer fish toxin blamed for deaths of two dogs". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 19 November 2011. 

External links[edit]