Clione limacina (sea butterfly)

Clione 2 ps big

Clione limacina (pelagic gastropod mollusc)

Collected: 5-6 km offshore from Chincoteague, VA. in depths of 9-10 meters . Caught using an epibenthic sled (365 micrometer mesh). Summer 2008.

Notes: Clione limacina reached 2 cm in length. Alive, they are among the most interesting and unusual of the zooplankton.The head looks snaillike, but here the resemblance ends to facilitate an entirely planktonic lifestyle (holoplanktonic). The shell is completely missing. Most of the body is transparent¬† in living animals. The foot is modified into two lateral “wings” that allow this snail to “fly” through the water. Hence the name “sea butterflies”.

Clione prefers clear ocean waters and is often found in the Gulf Stream and appear close to shore when pulses of these waters come shoreward each summer. Clione is a specialized predator feeding almost exclusively exclusively on another pelagic gastropod, Limacina. Although Clione was abundant in these samples, its prey was absent.


Collected by:W. S. Johnson, Goucher College