Kelp Forest –
White-spotted Rose Anemone
Nature of America
Issue Date: October 1, 2009
City: Monterey, CA
With its brightly colored body and petal-like tentacles the white-spotted rose anemone looks like a flower, but it is actually a predatory animal. Attached to the sea floor by its adhesive foot, the anemone uses its stinging tentacles to throw barbed and poisoned hooks into small prey such as fish and sea stars. Then the anemone grasps the paralyzed prey, pulls it to its mouth, and swallows the prey whole.
The poison tentacles have led to an interesting partnership between the white-spotted rose anemone and the painted greenling. The small fish, which are immune from the tentacles’ poison, clean parasites off the anemone. In exchange, the anemones use their tentacles to protect the greenling from predators. This mutually beneficial relationship protects the health of both sea creatures.
The anemone body is rather simple. Its central gut serves as stomach, intestine, and circulatory system. Yet the rose anemone has evolved a complex process for reproduction. The white-spotted rose anemone has separate sexes and reproduces by the male fertilizing the female’s eggs. It can also reproduce asexually by tearing itself apart into two halves. Each half is an identical genetic clone of the other.