hydroids

Not Your Average Anemones: Examining Unusual Species

We’ve discussed cnidarians in this column several times and will likely do so many more. There are about 10,000 species in this phylum and since most of them live in the ocean, divers encounter them all the time. Many are photogenic, which is why my files are full of their images. The two forms of cnidarians, polyps and medusae, are, according to The Shape of Life, “essentially mirrors of each other.” Polyps (i.e., anemones) are attached to a surface on one end by the pedal […]

Bryozoans: Mother Nature’s Look-Alikes

Ever look at a horse and wonder if it was a pig or a cat? Me neither. I have however, looked at dozens of my photos and wondered if they were actually bryozoans and not the hydroids, corals or seaweeds they resembled.  Mother Nature turned trickster when she created bryozoans. She gave them many different forms and colors. On land, an animal that looks like a horse is very probably a horse. Underwater, an animal that looks like a hydroid, coral or seaweed may just […]

Pretty But Poorly Understood Polyps: Sea Anemones

Among the approximately 10,000 species that belong to the phylum Cnidaria (the ‚ “C” is silent), there are at least 100 that are dangerous to humans. The phylum name means “nettle” in Greek and its members include sea anemones, corals, sea pens, gorgonians, jellyfishes and hydroids. Most of them are carnivores and most have nematocysts, which are used for defense and catching food. Fortunately, sea anemones are not dangerous to humans; their tiny harpoons (nematocysts) cannot penetrate deep enough into our skin to deliver toxin […]

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