Wednesday 28 January 2015

Wandering Sea Anemone

Image: Richard Ling
Phlyctenactis tuberculosa
Hey, look! A pile of baked beans!

Image: John Turnbull
Or jelly beans?

Image: John Turnbull

This baffling mound of madness, this ball of balls, is a sea anemone from south Australia and New Zealand.

Image: Saspotato
It spends the day curled up in a ball and only at night does it open up...

Image: Saspotato
And set its tentacles to work catching food.

Image: Saspotato
Now it looks like a perfectly ordinary sea anemone. At least from the top...

Image: Saspotato
But look at it from the side and you can see all those bulging blobs all over its 15 cm (6 in) column.

Video: Oliver Gibbs

These blobs, or bladder-like vesicles, provide the Wandering Sea Anemone with sufficient buoyancy to wander.

Wandering Anemones can cling onto rocks and seaweed when they want to, it's just that they don't always want to. When the spirit of adventure overcomes them, they release their hold and let the current take them to pastures new. They can even use undulations of their tentacles to swim.

Image: John Turnbull
That's why they're also known as Swimming Anemones and Beach Ball Anemones.

Yet another name they go by is Brain Anemone. I guess some people prefer the idea of coming across a brain rolling along the sea floor than a pile of jelly beans. There's no accounting for taste.


TexWisGirl said...

freaky! a bundt cake covered with candy-coated almonds! :)

Porakiya said...

The anemones are planning on rising up against us! Everyone, run for the mountains!

Crunchy said...

I hate it when I reach into a nice big bowl of jellybeans and find it's actually a cluster of tentacles and MOUTHS!

Unknown said...

Hey, I saw these things a few weeks ago when I was snorkeling in Kaikoura!

Joseph JG said...

@TexWisGirl: I guess they look either like delicious food or a brain!

@Porakiya Draekojin: Good idea! They probably won't be able to roll uphill!

@Crunchy: At least you shan't want for nightmare material!

@Jacob Littlejohn: Wow! Lucky you!