Creature Feature - The Dahlia Anemone
In addition to the marine residents that like to move around we have some residents that are sedentary in nature. They can move if they want but prefer to stay in one place, you could call it home. This week Anya introduces you to the aptly named, Dahlia Anemone (Urticina Felina).
"Anemones are part of the Cnidaria family which includes jellyfish. The Dahlia Anemone can be found while snorkelling or diving, and comes in an amazing range of colours - at Selsey I have seen pink, purple, yellow and red versions. They have a short squat column, so when open, they appear to be laying flat on the bottom. The column is covered in nodes that look like warts, it is camouflaged by bits of shell and small pebbles that stick to the column.
Growing to a be the size of a dinner plate around (20cms) they are much easier to spot when open. In the centre you can see the mouth, which is often in a contrasting colour, surrounding the centre are short, wide tentacles. Each anemone will have about 160 tentacles arranged in groups of ten. There is a clear banding on each that give the appearance of a ring.
They are powerful predators, using their tentacles to sting and paralyse their prey. They may stay still but beware any unfortunate, crab, worm, mollusc, prawns, or fish that stray too close. At their largest they can digest a sizable fish. Once stunned the meal is moved toward the mouth and feeding can begin. The sting is strong enough to cause harm to some humans so remember, as with all marine life, look but do not touch.
There is much we do not yet know about these striking and beautiful residents, like how long can they live? There are examples in controlled environments still going strong after 50 years…. a bit longer than the garden variety of dahlia will stay in bloom!"
If there's an underwater creature you'd like to know more about, please do leave us a comment on our facebook post.
Photos: Anya Frampton/Steve Frampton