cnidaria

Simple, But Complicated: All About Aggregating Anemones

Anemones
Anemones

They’re carnivores. And their harpoon-like tentacles are filled with powerful venom. If aggregating anemones grew bigger, divers would have reason to be very afraid. But thankfully, the anemones remain relatively small and their tiny harpoons (nematocysts) cannot penetrate our skin deep enough to deliver toxin to our bodies’ pain receptors. I learned these facts, and a few others, while researching this article. For instance, did you know that their tentacles can fire venomous miniature harpoons that repel predators and anemones unlike themselves? That a “demilitarized […]

Admiring California Hydrocoral

Much prized by underwater photographers for its beautiful colors, California hydrocoral (Stylaster californicus) is one of the 350 species of hydroids in the Phylum Cnidaria. A close cousin of the fire corals found in tropical waters, it is not a true (stony) coral.  Cnidaria (the “C” is silent) is not a small, insignificant phylum. It contains approximately 10,000 species, at least 100 of which are dangerous to humans. The phylum name means “nettle” in Greek and its members include some of the most photogenic animals […]

California’s Undersea Flower Animals: The Stony Corals

It’s a fact stranger than fiction: there are underwater creatures commonly found in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast that are biologically classified as “flower animals.” The class is Anthozoa, formed from two Greek words, anthos, meaning “flower” and zoa, meaning “animals,” and it contains the stony corals. Anthozoa is a class within the photogenic phylum Cnidaria (the “C” is silent), which means “nettle” in Greek. Besides corals, phylum members include sea anemones, sea pens, gorgonians, jellyfishes and hydroids. Cnidarians have two forms, polyps […]

How to Photograph Gorgonian Sea Fans

In Southern California waters we are blessed with temperate waters that encourage the growth of gorgonian sea fans. While they grow in branches that reach out from the reef, they are actually not a plant but rather a tightly grouped colony of tiny simple animals knows as polyps. The animals are a member of the Phylum Cnidaria animal group that also consists of anemones, jellies and corals. Much like their cousins they are very simple animals that consist of not much more than tentacles, a […]

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