Warriors of the Sea (aka Anemone)

So two weeks ago my class and I went to Bamfield Marine Science Center to experience first hand all the things we talk about in class and to experience a bit of what fieldwork is (pretty cool class right?).

In our trip at Bamfield we collected plankton, explored the shores, looked at rocky intertidal pools and even experienced a tsunami of fun and games with the class at night. While we were bombarded with different experiences from 7am till 11pm, It was a blast!

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We had an amazing rain free weekend at Bamfield Marine Science Center! Here is a picture I took from the dock.

On the first day we ended up going to beach after a long day of travel. In the dark with only the lights from our flashlights and headlights, we journeyed into the rocky land of the intertidal pools. This rocky intertidal area had so many different organisms living in it! From sea stars, sponges, tunicates, crab and even the elusive abalone. Yet, the most interesting thing to me was the anemone. They were everywhere! I shined my headlamp onto our classification sheet and found out they were called Aggregating Anenome. While everyone was busy admiring the abalone, I was busy poking anemone and watching them curl themselves inward. (it is a lot of fun poke an anemone out of water, I dare you)

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on the left, our class exploring the rocky intertidal communities. Aggregating Anemone are everywhere! On the right is a picture of an intertidal community; all around the edges you can see the anemone.

After bothering playing around with them, I had to learn more because aggregating Anemone are really cool! Did you know aggregating anemone could reproduce asexually and sexually? That means they can clone themselves! (pretty cool right?) They will sometimes just split off a piece and another one starts growing. This is call fragmentation. but what is really cool the fight for territory. Aggregating Anemones clone themselves but when clones of different anemones come together the fight for territory begins! Anemone of different genetic origin will make contact with each other and that’s when the warrior comes in. The warrior have specialized tentacles called acrorhagi and they attack each other with it.

this-is-spartajpg1Beadlet-anemones-showing-agression-using-inflated-acrorhagi

on the right, this is SPARTAAA and on the left is same thing reenacted with anemone (they are seen fighting using the acrorhagi aka the swelled parts). Taken from https://gipsygeek.wordpress.com/2010/05/05/greekonomics/ & http://www.arkive.org/beadlet-anemone/actinia-equina/image-A13068.html respectively.

The acrorhagi have nematocytes. These are cells that cause a stinging sensation and will stick to/attack the enemy anemone. If the anemone attempts to run away, the acrorhagi will attach detach itself from itself and remain on the enemy anemone. Having this tentacle attached can cause injury to the anemone and possibly death. That’s insane! It’s a little war underneath your feet and you wouldn’t even know it!

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self explanatory, war is where you least expect it. Under your foot or the sprinkler. Taken from http://joyreactor.com/post/470840

Does the fighting ever stop? Why yes, yes it does. This battle for territory actually is in sync with the tides. At high tide, the battle is on. But at low time, time to recuperate and prepare for the next battle. It’s a never ending war!

But that’s all for today. See you next time!

If you are interested to learn more about sea anemone here is a few links to fuel your passion for knowledge!

  1. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF00026511
  2. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animal-guide/invertebrates/aggregating-anemone
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aggregating_anemone
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