08 June 2011

Fantasies of Phyllodiscus: A surreal sea anemone

I've been obsessed with finding this anemone ever since Dr Daphne Fautin told us about it! It is a super well camouflaged anemone which I think behaves like a bizarre alien from outer space.
Where's the anemone?
Photo taken in the Maldives by Reinhard Kikinger,
shared by Andrea Crowther
Andrea Crowther shared some fascinating information about these mind-boggling animals! She has kindly allowed me to post it on this blog.

Andrea says: Phyllodiscus don’t always look like sea anemones! The tentacles we are used to seeing in sea anemones are hidden during the day in Phyllodiscus anemones. What we see instead are column outgrowths called pseudotentacles (photo above). At night, the column and the tentacles extend (photo below).
Photo taken in the Maldives by Reinhard Kikinger,
shared by Andrea Crowther, labels added by me.
Andrea continues: Secondly, they can look like branching hard corals, soft corals, seaweeds, and even rocks covered with algae. She shared these photos showing different shapes of Phyllodiscus that are known.
Photos by Dr. Bert Hoeksema (of the NCB Naturalis in the Netherlands)
shared by Andrea Crowther
Andrea adds further: Thirdly, another reason they are hard to notice is that sometimes they are camouflaged very well. The photo below has three Phyllodiscus individuals. Can you see them?!
Photo by Dr. Bert Hoeksema (of the NCB Naturalis in the Netherlands)
shared by Andrea Crowther

Andrea shares an important warning: Finally, but most importantly, Phyllodiscus anemones are very toxic. You should NOT touch them with bare hands or arms. People that come into contact with the toxins of the stinging cells get a very painful sting and rash. And scarily, she adds that the toxins are necrotic (meaning the toxins can eat your flesh away). Eeeks!

Andrea also shared this wonderful video clip of a Phyllodiscus.
Dr Daphne feels these anemones might be found here. Wouldn't it be awesome to find one of these animals in Singapore?!

Andrea also shared another species of sea anemone (related to Phyllodiscus) called Triactis producta. She says this species is known from Singapore! She has done a superb write up of this sea anemone on the Florida Museum of Natural History website. It too has weird pseudotentacles.
Photo from the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Andrea shares in the writeup: The Triactis producta are cryptic and found grouped on sides or in crevices of rocks or dead coral (see photo below). They can also be found attached to live branching scleractinian corals, occurring deep in the colony near the intersections of the coral branches! Wow!
Photo from the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Andrea visited with Dr Daphne on her previous trip to Singapore in 2009. Andrea got 'mud stockings' from exploring one of our soft silty shores which was full of anemones!
We sure miss seeing her this time around! Thanks Andrea for sharing about these anemones!

There's so much MORE to discover about Singapore's sea anemones!

I can't wait for Dr Daphne's Sea Anemone Workshop (15-21 Jun). Ordinary people CAN join in as day participants to the workshop. Here's more information.

2 comments:

  1. Now that's a whopper! Marine life never fails to amaze even the experts among us! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for dropping by JK! And yes, never fails to amaze indeed!

    ReplyDelete

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