The Southern California Solitary Anemone is an animal that lives in the inter-tidal region of the California coast. We saw this Solitary Anemone (say, "uh-NEM-oh-NEE") in a tide pool near Point Loma in San Diego. The inter-tidal region is the part of the shore that is between the tides. That is, at high tide the inter-tidal region is underwater, but at low tide the inter-tidal region is out of the water.
The Solitary Anemone has a body that is shaped like a big can or cylinder. The body may be as much as 1 foot tall and ten inches across. The Anemones we saw in the tide pools were only three to five inches across. They were so short that they looked like they were barely one inch tall, although their bodies may have been hidden in holes in the rocks. This picture shows the Anemone's mouth in the center of its body. Its mouth is surrounded by a ring of stinging tentacles. If a fish or other small animal swims into these tentacles, the Anemone can grab the animal and pull it into its mouth. The stingers in its tentacles can paralyze the animal so it can't get away. This Anemone may eat small fish, such as Wooly Sculpins.
This picture shows what happens as the tide goes out to leave the Anemones high and dry. The ocean surface is at the top of this picture. When the tide goes out to leave the Anemone out of the water, the Anemone pushes its body up and over its tentacles and mouth. It folds itself in half like a taco. Notice the Anemone in the middle of the picture that is nearly folded in half. Its body is covered with pieces of broken shells, possibly from snails, crabs, clams, or other kinds of mollusks and crustaceans, and possibly from animals it has eaten. It holds these broken shells with tiny tubes that are all over its body. These bits of shells help protect the exposed Anemone while it is out of the water. When the tide comes back in, the Anemone unfolds itself, extends its tentacles, and waits for its next meal.