Spanish dancer

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Spanish dancer
Hexabranchus sanguineus 1.jpg
90 cm long specimen of the Spanish dancer, photographed at night in Bali
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Gastropoda
(unranked): clade Heterobranchia
clade Euthyneura
clade Nudipleura
clade Nudibranchia
Superfamily: Doridoidea
Family: Hexabranchidae
Genus: Hexabranchus
Species: H. sanguineus
Binomial name
Hexabranchus sanguineus
(Ruppell & Leuckart, 1828)[1]
  • Doris lacera Cuvier, 1804 (nomen oblitum)
  • Doris sanguinea Rüppell & Leuckart, 1828-1830 (nomen protectum)
  • Hexabranchus praetextus Ehrenberg, 1828
  • Doris flammulata Quoy & Gaimard, 1832
  • Doris marginata Quoy & Gaimard, 1832
  • Doris cardinalis Gould, 1852
  • Doris sandwichiensis Souleyet, 1852
  • Hexabranchus pulchellus Pease, 1860
  • Hexabranchus suezensis Abraham, 1876
  • Hexabranchus pellucidulus Abraham, 1876
  • Hexabranchus aneiteumensis Abraham, 1877
  • Hexabranchus mauritiensis Abraham, 1877
  • Hexabranchus orbicularis Abraham, 1877
  • Hexabranchus anaiteus Bergh, 1878
  • Albania formosa Collingwood, 1881
  • Doris imperialis Kent, 1897
  • Hexabranchus digitatus Eliot, 1903
  • Hexabranchus plicatus Hägg, 1903
  • Hexabranchus aureomarginatus Ostergaard, 1955
  • Hexabranchus tinkeri Ostergaard, 1955

The Spanish dancer, scientific name Hexabranchus sanguineus (literally meaning "blood-colored six-gills"), is a dorid nudibranch, a very large and colorful sea slug, a marine gastropod mollusk in the family Hexabranchidae.[3]


A Spanish dancer swimming, its anterior end on the right

This species of very large, strong-swimming nudibranch is one of the largest of all nudibranchs: specimens of well over 40 cm in length have been reported.[3]

The species name, sanguineus, refers to its bright red coloration, but a yellow variant also exists.

This nudibranch has two very different modes of locomotion: crawling and swimming. When it crawls, the wide edges of the mantle (the parapodia) are rolled up close to the body. When the animal swims however, the red parapodia unfurl, and are whirled through the water in a spectacular undulating motion, propelling the animal forwards.

The animal was given the common name "Spanish dancer" because the whirling swimming movement, and the red color of the mantle, are reminiscent of the skirt movements of a flamenco dancer.

The Emperor shrimp, Periclimenes imperator, is a commensal that is commonly found living on Hexabranchus sanguineus.


This species is found throughout the tropical Indo-Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea.[3]


  1. ^ Rudman, W.B., 1999 (March 31) Hexabranchus sanguineus (Ruppell & Leuckart, 1828). [In] Sea Slug Forum. Australian Museum, Sydney.
  2. ^ Valdés Á. (2002). "How many species of Hexabranchus (Opisthobranchia : Dorididae) are there?". Molluscan Research 22(3): 289-301. doi:10.1071/MR02012, PDF.
  3. ^ a b c Seaslug forum

External links[edit]