Volume 4    Number 11

Giant Anemone on Inner Reef
at San Salvador, The Bahamas

Giant Anemone with Split-Crown Feather Duster Worm Nearby

This animal is a Giant Anemone. The Giant Anemone has many tentacles that reach out into the water, trying to catch fish. This Giant Anemone was about 8 inches across, with tentacles from 4 to 6 inches long.

Giant Anemones eat fish. If a small fish swims into the Giant Anemone's tentacles, then stinging cells that cover the Anemone's tentacles will paralyze the fish. The Anemone can grasp the fish with its tentacles and pull the fish into its mouth located in the center of all the tentacles.

You can't see this Anemone's body. Its body is out of sight, hidden down in a crack between the coral skeletons on this inner reef.

Near the top of this picture are two bright red animals. At the upper left is a small red Encrusting Sponge, and near the top center is a bright red Split-Crown Feather Duster Worm. You can read more about sponges on the ReefNews website, starting with the Critter Index and also with the Corals Index. And you can read more about Split-Crown Feather Duster Worms in the next article in this issue of e-ReefNews.

These animals are living on the inside of the barrier wall of San Salvador's reefs. About 1/4 of a mile from shore on the west coast of San Salvador is a steep cliff at the top of a dropoff that plunges down to the abyss of the Exuma Sound. At the top of this wall is a tall coral reef, extending up from the top of this cliff for as much as 20 to 30 feet. This coral reef is a barrier, creating a lagoon with a shallow sandy bottom between the edge of the cliff and the west coast of the island. Because corals depend on ocean currents to bring them food, there are not as many corals living on the inside of this wall as there are on the outside. The outside of the coral wall looks out over the cliff, and there is a steady flow of food carried in the currents flowing through the abyss. The outside of the wall is covered by corals. But the wall blocks the currents, preventing food from getting to the corals on the inside of the wall, so there are not as many corals on the inside of the wall as on the outside. Notice how much of the reef in this picture is covered by sand.

Compare this Giant Anemone with the California Solitary Anemone on the ReefNews website at http://www.reefnews.com/reefnews/photos/sd/sd_anemo.html



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