Opisthobranch of the Week Data
Phyllaplysia lafonti is considered to be common on Okinawa, although I've only collected a total of six individuals, from two separate diving excursions, I've seen numerous others. The animals are only infrequently seen by divers, although they are a common occurring anapsid here. The reason for their apparent rarity is that they are found on the brown alga, Padina, upon which they are almost indistinguishably blended in the color, texture, and form of the alga itself. The flattened, elliptical shape of this cryptic aplysiid conforms very nicely with that of the commonly encountered alga. Frequently a careful examination of any dense stand of Padina will result in the discovery of these cryptic animals. I've added a second page with additional images of three animals collected from the Seragaki dive site on 14 July, 1997.
Previously on these pages Phyllaplysia lafonti was listed as Petalifera petalifera but I've decided to follow Bill Rudman's comments (2005) on the Sea Slug Forum in using Phyllaplysia lafonti as the name for this small aplysiid.
Petalifera petalifera is considered to be circumtropical, being reported by various authors as being found in the Mediterranean, Atlantic coast of Europe, and the Indo-West Pacific.