09 January 2018

Soxy sea creatures: Cnidarian edition

Time to make more DIY handmade 'plushie' mascots out of socks! As volunteers prep up for International Year of the Reef 2018 activities!
How to make plushie cnidarians
Being nature people, we are a little picky about making these animals somewhat anatomically correct. Here's more tips on how to make cnidarians!

The most familiar Cnidarian are probably hard corals! Each hard coral is a colony of tiny animals called polyps. Each polyp produces a hard skeleton. What you see as a hard coral is the joined up skeletons of countless tiny polyps. When the polyps extend their tentacles, the colony can appear furry.
Honey-comb hexagonal coral (Family Merulinidae)
The colony can be spherical, plate-like, branching and many other shapes.
A spectacular marine event is mass coral spawning. When many corals release eggs and sperm at the same time.
Here's some sock corals, including fluffy ones with coral spawn, another that has brain-like patterns, and yet another made up of open star-shaped polyps.
How to make plushie hard corals
A closer look at the spawning corals!
How to make plushie spawning coral
I made tiny polyps out of these lumpy wool and tiny styrofoam balls for eyes. The lumpy wool also makes great bristle worms.
How to make plushie stars polyps and bristleworms
Another kind of cnidarian are sea fans! These beautiful delicate creatures are often mistaken for plants. A sea fan is also a colony of tiny polyps. When the polyps are extended, the colony has a fluffy appearance. Gorgonian colonies usually take on branching forms, but the branching is only along one plane (i.e., most are not bushy).
Candelabra sea fan (Euplexaura sp.)
The tiny polyps filter out edible bits from the water. So a sea fan usually grows with the branches at right angles to the flow of the current. This maximises the amount of water filtered and apparently breaks up the water current into curls that wash back over the polyps, for a second chance to filter out more edible bits. Sea fans are most abundant and grow largest where there is a strong one-way current.
Various sea fans
It's really easy to make sea fans out of pipe cleaners!
How to make plushie sea fans
Flowery soft corals are also colonies of tiny polyps.
Pink flowery soft coral (Dendronephthya sp.)
While zoanthids are not colonial, the polyps do grow very close to one another.
Button zoanthids (Zoanthus sp.)
Here's my attempt at flowery soft corals and zoanthids.
How to make plushie soft corals and zoanthids
I made the soft corals from gloves with lumpy wool for the polyps.
How to make plushie soft corals
It's also easy to make jellyfishes!
How to make plushie jellyfish
These jellyfishes have crochetted tentacles.
How to make plushie jellyfish
Sea anemones are single polyps and are not colonial. Carpet anemones are flat and often have a pair of shrimps that are adapted to live safely from the anemone's stings.
Haddon's carpet anemone (Stichodactyla haddoni) with Peacock-tail anemone shrimps (Periclimenes brevicarpalis)
Cerianthids are NOT true sea anemones. They have a ring of longer outer tentacles with an inner ring of shorter tentacles.
Elegant cerianthid
Here is a soxy cerianthid.
How to make plushie cerianthids
Some sea anemone reproduce by budding off tiny anemones from their body. Here are some sock anemones with tiny anemones on their bodies.
How to make plushie sea anemones with babies
Sea anemones can be created out of a glove, in the process of creating a sea star and crab too!
Find out more about the cnidarians of Singapore on the wild fact sheets of wildsingapore.

Did you make a cnidarian plushie? I would love it if you could share a photo of it!

This article is written for Celebrating Singapore Shores as part of International Year of the Reef 2018.

Celebrating Singapore shores for IYOR 2018 logo


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