Morphology and Phylogenetic Position of the Sargassum Nudibranch Scyllaea fulva Quoy & Gaimard, 1824 (Nudibranchia: Scyllaeidae): First Record in Hong Kong

The genus Scyllaea, commonly known as the sargassum nudibranch, currently consists of only two valid species, Scyllaea pelagica and Scyllaea fulva. These species inhabit seaweed Sargassum spp., feeding on hydroids. During a biodiversity survey conducted in April 2023, several sargassum nudibranch individuals were collected from the seaweed Sargassum spp. through SCUBA diving. The specimens were initially misidentified based on their resemblance to Notobryon wardi and previous local records. However, thorough morphological and molecular examinations confirmed them to be Scyllaea fulva, representing the first record of this species in Hong Kong. Notably, we observed a significant dearth of well-documented morphological information (particularly internal morphology) pertaining to Scyllaea fulva in existing literature. In addition to phylogenetic analysis, this paper investigated the external and internal morphology of Scyllaea fulva, the data generated through this study provides valuable insights into the morphology of scyllaeids, facilitating more accurate identification by researchers in the future.

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