The oceans of our planet are home to some wild and unique creatures…from all the various fish, to invertebrates and crustaceans, and even marine mammals, wildlife is extremely diverse under the sea. One unique animal that often gets mistaken for a plant is our current Animal of the Week – the Sea Anemone! While they get their name from the anemone plant, these are actually animals, and predators at that! The family Cnidaria is where these creatures are classified, along with similarly unique animals like jellyfish and coral. Their bodies are made up of a “polyp” section, like a vase in a cylinder shape that attaches to a hard surface, and then a ring of tentacles to help catch their prey. Sea Anemone’s come in a variety of colors and styles and are truly a beautiful sight to see – they can even form symbiotic relationships with other animals like clownfish and hermit crabs!
What Does A Sea Anemone Do?
At first glance, it might seem like a Sea Anemone lives a pretty basic life…and it’s true, they aren’t really the rockstars of the animal kingdom. Most sea anemones are sessile, which means they normally don’t move and don’t really have any body parts or functions to get them around. They can still get around because of ocean currents, and some can still creep around on their base at a very, very slow pace.
Are They Dangerous?
While Sea Anemones are indeed predators, a human is never on the menu so we don’t have to worry too much. The tentacles of a Sea Anemone include nematocysts, like a jellyfish, and these nemtaocysts fire out barbs with poison that lead to the stings we know and avoid. However, they generally do not pose a threat to humans, as they stay deep in the ocean. Deep sea divers do need to keep an eye out, as well as the occasional sea anemone that washes on shore. A sting usually is pretty mild on a human, however some can be very dangerous especially if there’s an allergic reaction, so it’s possible for a sting to be fatal. If you ever think you’ve been stung, always tell an adult and get medical attention quickly – the sooner the better, and usually it’ll be a mild experience!
Do Sea Anemones Have Brains?
Like other cnidarians, it’s true…they don’t have any brains! While they may not have a fully formed brain, cnidarians do have a simple muscle and nervous system. They can still make decisions and individual anemones even have their own personalities.
How Do They Defend Themselves?
Because these organisms are sessile, the normal survival instinct of “fight or flight” really doesn’t apply to them. If a sea anemone is confronted with a legitimately bigger predator that wants to eat it, usually the sea anemone just has to accept their fate. However, those nematocysts in their tentacles can provide quite the unpleasant sting to a predator, and often those bright and beautiful colors are a warning to predators that this food can still bite back!
What is a Sea Anemone’s Habitat?
Like their name says, sea anemones can be found in the sea! There are thousands of different species of sea anemone and they can be found all across the oceans, from shallow waters to coral reefs and then the deep ocean depths. These creatures usually don’t need a specific habitat as they will attach their base to a surface and often stay in that area for long periods of time. However, the sea anemone itself can be considered a habitat – animals like the clownfish can live together with a sea anemone, both protecting each other in a symbiotic relationship!
Remember to keep exploring our kids zone defenders, and test your knowledge with all our quizzes and games! SEA you next week! 😉