step on the sea anemones!
Small sea anemones like the banded
bead anemone make a good 'first station' to sensitise visitors
to the fact that every inch of the shore is alive.
are sea anemones?
you guess? Are they animal or vegetable?
- Yes they
are animals: each soft coral is a colony of many tiny animals
- In a
way, they are kind of vegetables too. Many soft corals contain
tiny algae inside their bodies. The microscopic, single-celled
algae (called symbiotic zooxanthallae, pronounced 'zoo-zan-tell-ay')
undergo photosynthesis to produce food from sunlight. The
food produced is shared with the polyp, which in return provides
the algae with shelter and minerals.
closer look at sea anemones
just a blob, it's not an anemone! At low tide, some sea
anemones can tuck their tentacles into their body to avoid drying
out. So they just look like a blob. Let's look at some, here in
this pool of water, that are still expanded.
Power! Although the animal looks like a flower, it is
actually quite fierce, to small animals anyway. Sea anemones are
closely related to jellyfish. In fact, it's like an upside down
jellyfish, with the tentacles facing upwards. And like jellyfish,
sea anemones also can sting. Many use their stingers to catch
is the mouth? A sea anemone doesn't have an anus. It has
only one opening. Food goes in, and wastes go out, of this single
opening. This opening is in the centre of a ring of tentacles.
To be polite, we call this opening the mouth.
they move? What you first see is just the tentacles. The
sea anemone is typically like a mushroom, with a long body column.
This body column can be buried in the sand or hidden among crevices
among stones. If the sea anemone is unhappy where it is, it can
let go and drift to find a new location. Small ones on hard surfaces
may glide slowly.
Sea anemones are important to the ecosystem
anemones are almost everywhere on the shore!
anemones are even found on other animals!
anemones are important to the ecosystem
large sea anemones are homes to
anemonefishes are often seen in large sea anemones especially
in the southern islands.
shrimps are also seen in carpet anemones on many shores.
anemone shrimps are seen on carpet anemones on our Northern
animals also hide UNDER the sea anemones: snapping shrimps,
do NOT remove or disturb animals living in or under the
sea anemone. Just point them out to the visitors.
anemones and you
- The aquarium
trade also has an impact as large sea anemones are harvested from
the wild for the trade.
This hurts the reefs as large sea anemones are homes to other
animals, among other roles in the habitat.
anemone myths to dispel
- Not all
sea anemones can regenerate by splitting into two.
So please do not cut a sea anemone up. Instead of getting two
sea anemones, you may just end up with zero anemones.
Don't touch sea anemones: They are easily bruised and
some of them can sting.
If you would like visitors to touch a carpet
anemone, warn them to do it gently. Emphasise the difference
between touching and poking.
DO NOT USE STICKS or any other hard objects to touch sea
anemones.They have soft bodies and you may puncture them.
DO NOT pry sea anemones off hard surfaces or try to dig
them out of the sand or pull them out of rocky hiding places.
You will hurt the sea anemone as they are usually well attached.
You may not be able to reattach them, and then they will die.
To see animals living in the sea anemone, don't prod
or poke the sea anemone! If you do the sea anemone will shrink
and its commensals will simply hide more deeply. Be patient
and the animals will come out.
Please do NOT remove anemonefishes or anemone shrimps from
the sea anemone. Both the fish/shrimp and the sea anemone
need one another to survive. Without the anemone the fish or
shrimp will die. Even if you plan to return the animals to the
sea anemones, these animals may die or be hurt when you move
Please do NOT feed the sea anemones: Anemones know how
to feed themselves. You might hurt the anemone if you put the
wrong thing on it. If you put another living animal on an anemone
you will be hurting two animals. Please don't put objects such
as litter or dead crabs on an anemone either.
Please do NOT 'save' animals captured by the sea anemone:
If you do, you will be depriving the anemone of a meal. It might
not get so lucky again for a while. The animal that you 'saved'
might also not survive if it was badly stung by the anemone.