IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th March, 2024 Environment


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Picture Courtesy: https://bnnbreaking.com/world/india/new-head-shield-sea-slug-species-melanochlamys-droupadi-discovered-in-india-named-after-president-murmu

Context: The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) named a newly discovered marine species as "Melanochlamys droupadi".

About Melanochlamys droupadi

  • The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has named a newly discovered sea slug species, Melanochlamys droupadi, after the President of India, Droupadi Murmu. This head-shield sea slug, distinguished by its ruby red spot, was found off the coasts of Digha (West Bengal) and Udaipur (Odisha).
  • The species belongs to the Melanochlamys genus, which is characterized by a short, blunt, and cylindrical body.

Unique Features

  • The sea slug is described as a small invertebrate, with a maximum length of up to 7 mm.
  • It has a brownish-black colouration with a distinctive ruby-red spot located at the hind end.
  • The species is hermaphroditic, meaning individuals possess both male and female reproductive organs.
  • The sea slug is known for crawling on the intertidal zone, leaving crawl marks on sandy beaches.

Habitat and Behavior

  • The sea slug typically inhabits the intertidal zone.
  • It is known to crawl beneath smooth sand, creating a moving capsule where the body is rarely visible.
  • The behaviour of continuously secreting mucus serves as a protective mechanism against sand entry.


  • While species of the Melanochlamys genus are generally distributed in temperate regions of the Indo-Pacific Oceanic realm, Melanochlamys droupadi is considered a tropical species.
  • Three species of this group are identified as truly tropical, including Melanochlamys bengalensis from the West Bengal and Odisha coast.

Sea Slugs




Marine Invertebrates


Gastropods (same class as snails)


Some have internal or reduced shells, others lack them entirely.


Soft, unsegmented, and muscular. Can be various shapes and sizes.


Incredibly diverse! They can be brightly coloured, patterned, translucent, or dull.


Varies greatly depending on the species. Some are herbivores, some carnivores, and some even steal stinging cells from prey to use for defence.


Found in all oceans, from shallow tidal pools to deep ocean trenches.


Glide on a muscular foot and may use fleshy protrusions for swimming or steering.

Defence Mechanisms

Some rely on camouflage, some produce toxins, and some steal stinging cells from their prey.


Most are hermaphrodites with both male and female reproductive organs.


Play a vital role in marine ecosystems by controlling prey populations and contributing to biodiversity.

Interesting Fact

Some sea slugs, called nudibranchs, have colourful appendages called cerata that can contain stolen stinging cells from their prey!


  • The discovery and naming of Melanochlamys droupadi contribute to the understanding of marine biodiversity, and the species is now officially recognized as part of India's rich coastal fauna. 


Q. What type of marine creature is Melanochlamys Droupadi?

A) Jellyfish

B) Sea Turtle

C) Sea Slug

D) Starfish

Answer: C


Melanochlamys droupadi is a newly discovered species of sea slug. Sea slugs are marine invertebrates known for their soft bodies and a wide variety of shapes and colours.