Did you guess it correctly? It is an anemone!!
General Description: Sea anemones are Cnidarians like corals and sea jellies. Anemones have tentacles, which are the continuum of the digestive cavity and some species have other “hollow” structures, such as the acrorhagi at the base of the tentacles. The tentacles have toxin-filled stinging capsules called Nematocysts surrounding their central mouth (which is also their bottom!) which they use to protect them from predators and to feed. The sting from the nematocyst immobilises the prey, and then the anemone uses the tentacles to move the food into the mouth. The tentacles are also used to capture food drifting past, and their diet consists of small animals such as plankton, crabs and fish,
The anemone pictured was found at Sorrento back beach burrowed in the sand and based on its appearance is likely to be Aulactinia veratra. This species can have a trunk (column) up to 8 cm wide, and green tentacles around the top, however, some individuals are brown/red like this particular anemone. When these anemones retract their oral disc and the tentacles tuck inside the body cavity, green individuals can appear as black.
Biology: Retains water during low tide periods, making it swell-up and feel like jelly when touched.
Habitat and Distribution: Rocky areas, including in crevices at mid-tide level, to a depth of 3 m. Reefs and coastal shores in New Zealand and southern Australia
Conservation Status: Unknown/Unlisted
Watch out for next week’s creature feature and see if you can guess what the animal is before you click on the link! If you would like to join the Dolphin Research Education Team on a rock pool ramble please email Mandy Robertson at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at the office.