Spotted Doris (Peltodoris atromaculata)

Some times the Peltodoris atromaculata is referred to as Dotted Sea Slug, Snail Cow, 

Doris Leopard  Kuhschnecke, and many more depending on which language is being spoken.


Pelto derives from the Latin pellis, meaning skin, hide

Doris, is a  marine divinity that gives name to the Peltodoris atromaculata. As the legend says, the divinity was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, married to the sea god Nereus. They were the parents of the 50 sea nymphs or Nereids

Atro- means black. It is the default form of the Latin word ater

Maculata, derives from latin maculatus, meaning spotted


It is one of the most abundant species of Nudibranchs found in the Mediterranean and southern European countries. It was once believed to be endemic to the Mediterranean Sea, but also lives in the next Atlantic coasts around Spain, Portugal, the Canary Islands Madeira and the Strait of Gibraltar.


The Spotted Doris is a large species, ranging from 5–7 cm, up to 12 cm in length. It has a distinctive body design: white background dorsum with dark brown, almost black round spots decorating its entire body. The dark spots on the back tend to be larger in the centre, compared to those on the margins of its body. The decoration of the Peltodoris atromaculata varies in each individual, although the dorsal spots remain.

The Spotted Doris has a leathery consistency and has feather-like gills on the rear section of the body. The gill is composed of up to 8 white gill leaves with the central axis coloured light brown. The gill sheath is a tuberculate and the gill leaves are fully retractable. The Peltodoris atromaculata

has two rhinophores on the forward section of its body. Rhinophores are olfactory organs, comprising in total of twenty-five lamellae. The lamellae increase the surface area for receipt of molecules carried in the water. The mouth has a pair of fine oral palps. The Spotted Doris has a foot which is large and peeps out below the fringe of the body. It is situated at the rear end of the body, forming a rounded tail. The foot and the underside of the animal is white, although the internal organs can give a soft pink hue to the central section of the foot.

When the animal is at rest, the body outline is nearly circular and hard in consistence.

Photo by Janet Bulmer at Dive Smart Gozo

The Spotted Doris was found at the Dive-site: Blue Hole