Although mistaken for flowers or plants, these creatures are stinging animals!
Here's a small selection of some of our sea anemones ...
Sea anemones related to jellyfish, and have tentacles with stingers.
A sea anemone has a body column topped with a mouth surrounded by tentacles. These tentacles have stingers to stun prey and protect itself.In some, there is broad disk on top of the body column. The disk may have many short sticky tentacles, instead of long tentacles.
Anytime you visit a shore in Singapore, you are almost certain to see a sea anemone. But you may have to look carefully. Many sea anemones can tuck their tentacles into the body column, so that they look like a blob.
Like these tiny Banded bead anemones found near rocky places near the high shore.Many other tiny sea anemones are found growing on rocky shores, and man-made seawalls and jetty legs.
Sandy shore anemones
Sandy shores teem with sea anemones; some small and well camouflaged or hidden in the sand.
These pretty little sea anemones are commonly found in sand, but hard to spot as they slip away into the sand at the slightest footstep, leaving no trace on the surface.This elegant sea anemone that looks like it is made of blown glass is sometimes seen in our sandy shores.This is another sea anemone commonly seen on some of our silty, sandy shores. It has a pimply body.
Sea anemones among seagrasses
Seagrass meadows often have carpet anemones that may be bigger than your face! Famously abundant on Chek Jawa, the Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) comes in many different colours.They are identified by the series of long-short tentacles at the edge of the disk.While most sea anemone are stuck to a surface, the Swimming anemone (Boloceroides mcmurichii) can swim about slowly. Although it is also often seen attached to seagrasses and seaweeds.
Coral rubble sea anemones
In the rubbly areas of our Northern shores, we commonly encounter the very large Snaky sea anemone (Macrodactyla doreensis) which has tentacles that remind some (hungry) visitors of a bowl of udon noodles!Another sea anemone often seen in rubbly areas especially near reefs is the large Giant carpet anemone (Stichodactyla gigantea) has a pink or purple underside and body with colourful spots.Among the coral rubble, in crevices, you will very commonly encounter these sea anemones with branched tentacles (Phymanthus sp.) They come in many different patterns and colours. Scientists are still studying them to find out whether they are the same species or not.Often overlooked is this elegant sea anemone with only a few tentacles.It is very shy and will disappear into the crevices or sand at the slightest sign of danger.
Sea anemones of the reefs
Near living corals, you will often encounter the appropriately named Magnificent sea anemone (Heteractis magnifica).More often seen by divers in deeper waters is the Bulb-tip sea anemone (Entacmea quadricolor) with inflated tips to their tentacles.
In the mangroves too!
Even our mangroves have beautiful sea anemones!
Many of our sea anemone are yet unidentified as the group is poorly studied.
In the next article, more about animals that live with anemones and that anemones live with.
Links to more about our sea anemones
Photos of sea anemones on wildsingapore flickr